The Abuja office of Nigeria’s Accountant General, Ahmed Idris, was engulfed in flames early Wednesday morning. Eyewitness reports on Twitter (with videos) showed how fire gutted some parts of the building which is located beside the FCT Police Command in Garki, Abuja.
— micsy__ (@micsy__) April 8, 2020
Although it was not initially clear what caused the fire outbreak, Nairametrics later gathered that it started when an air conditioner began sparking somewhere around the third floor. The fire then quickly spread towards the top floors where the AGF’s office is situated.
A statement that was posted hours later on the official Twitter handle of Nigeria’s Federal Fire Service gave a situation report of the incident. According to the statement, the fire was extinguished within an hour after it began, thereby preventing total damage to the building. However, despite the “prompt response” of the fire service, pictures depicting the aftermath of the inferno showed significant damages.
The Controller General commended fire fighters of the Federal Fire Service, and other response agencies whose combined efforts led to extinguishing the Fire outbreak at Treasury House (OAGF) Abuja, within 45 minutes, averting the disastrous destruction of the building. pic.twitter.com/kKHYwFBO9W
— Federal Fire Service (@Fedfireng) April 8, 2020
In the meantime, the fire incident has elicited various responses from Nigerians, many of whom are suspicious of the circumstances surrounding it. As you may well know, government workers were supposed to be at home observing the lockdown order that was earlier issued by President Muhammadu Buhari. What this means, therefore, is that the building was supposed to be closed, with all electrical appliances disconnected. This could have helped avoid any fire outbreak.
But was this the case? Well, maybe or maybe not. It could as well be that something fishy actually happened to cause the fire, as theorised by Onyekachi Uka, one of those who commented on the subject matter on Twitter.
Let the whole world hear and take note that president Muhammadu Buhari has taken our money from the treasury and ask his men to put on fire in the treasury house ,so that documents will be burnt
The will keep on… https://t.co/GoxCm8RCI9
— ONYEKACHI UKA (@ONYEKACHIUKA2) April 9, 2020
Popular Nigerian social/political commentator, Dr Joe Abbah, also weighed in on the matter. Reacting specifically to other Nigerians like Onyekachi Uka who believed that the fire was a mischievous coverup, he clarified that Nigeria does not keep money at the Accountant General’s Office.
In case you didn’t know, no money is kept in the Office of the Accountant General. Monies are kept in the Central Bank and the OAGF’s electronic data is backed up offsite in one of the states. Don’t worry about #COVIDー19 money. Worry instead about the safety of fellow Nigerians
— Dr. Joe Abah (@DrJoeAbah) April 8, 2020
In the meantime, SERAP (Socio-Economic Right And Accountability Project) has called for an immediate investigation into the fire incident. A message posted on the pressure group’s official Twitter said:
“BREAKING: We’re calling on President Buhari to order a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the fire which razed most parts of the office of Nigeria’s Accountant General in Abuja today; and to publish its findings. If deliberate, those involved must be punished.”
BREAKING: We're calling on President Buhari to order a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the fire which razed most parts of the office of Nigeria’s Accountant General in Abuja today; and to publish its findings.
If deliberate, those involved must be punished.
— SERAP (@SERAPNigeria) April 8, 2020
In the aftermath of the fire incident, some government officials have assured Nigerians that there is no cause for alarm. According to them, Nigeria did not lose money or important documents to the fire, as speculated by some. Senator Solomon O Adeola said this on Twitter:
I was at the Treasury House,Office of Accountant General of the Federation that was gutted by fire. All damage documents are retrievable as they are on Server as well as already archived and online real time. No cause for Alarm @Ebiwali_ @NGRSenate @DrAhmadLawan @FinMinNigeria pic.twitter.com/PNz4IvdJS8
— Solomon O. Adeola (@YAYIAdeola) April 8, 2020
Nigerians will now pay N50 stamp duty on electronic receipts – FIRS
“Any electronic receipt for, or electronic transfer of, money deposited with any bank or with any banker in any type of account of an amount from N10,000 upwards shall attract a singular or one-off duty of the sum of N50.” –FIRS
Nigerians will now pay stamp duties on all forms of electronic notifications acknowledging receipts of funds.
This includes SMS and messages on any electronic platform such as emails and Whatsapp messages.
This is according to a circular that was signed by FIRS’ Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami, as seen on the tax agency’s website. Part of the circular said:
“Any electronic receipt for, or electronic transfer of, money deposited with any bank or with any banker in any type of account of an amount from N10,000 upwards shall attract a singular or one-off duty of the sum of N50.
“Stamp duty upon receipt (written, printed or in electronic form) for transactions between corporate bodies or between a corporate body and an individual, group or body of individuals, which amounts to N10,000 and above, shall be denoted by payment of N50 per receipt to the service.”
The FIRS circular also stated that stamp duties will be paid on “POS receipts, fiscalised device receipts, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) print-outs.”
The circular went further to categorically state that all receipts, either printed or electronically generated, or any form of electronic acknowledgement of money transactions, will attract the stamp duty of N50.
The agency also clarified that it is the only body authorised to collect such duties because “the Federal Inland Revenue Service is the only competent authority to impose, charge, and collect duties upon instruments specified in the schedule to this act if such instrument relates to matters executed between a company and an individual, group or body of individuals.”
The instruments subject to charge, as listed in the circular, include; fixed duty instruments such as Power of Attorney, Certificate of Attorney, Proxy forms, Appointment of receivers, Memorandum of Understanding, Joint Venture Agreements, Guarantors form, Ordinary agreements and Receipts; and Ad-valorem instruments such as Tenancy or lease agreements, legal mortgage or debentures, Sales agreements and Deed of assignments.
Ministry of Health approves COVID-19 protocols for aviation sector, as airports prepare to resume
Flight attendants would be required to undergo mandatory COVID-19 test every fortnight, at the expense of their employers.
Flight crew members will now be required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and observe Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) measures for the duration of their flights.
They would also be required to undergo mandatory COVID-19 test every fortnight, at the expense of their employers.
This is part of the mandatory COVID-19 protocols approved by the Federal Ministry of Health for the aviation industry, as the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) prepares to gradually ease the lockdown on its operations on June 7.
NCAA Director-General, Captain Musa Nuhu, stated this at a virtual event organised by the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART) titled COVID-19: The Challenges and Opportunity for Nigeria’s Aviation Value Chain, During and Post.
According to Nuhu who sent letters to airline operators, airports, and other service providers, these new protocols override existing practices where the international flight crew members are quarantined for 14 days upon their return to Nigeria.
In addition, the airlines must also conduct orientation and sensitisation of their crew on Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) measures, in addition to having adequate stock of PPE, minimum 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and Universal Precaution Kits (UPK) on board every aircraft.
The letter reads; “Onboard the flight crew will request passengers wash their hands after using the lavatory, apply disinfectant spray in lavatory every 60 minutes during the flight and maintain a safe distance between passengers and themselves; avoid direct physical contact and serve only pre-packed meals to passengers.
“Flight deck crew must wear non-medical face masks and gloves but can remove face masks when the cockpit door is closed. They must also ensure safe removal of gloves after performing specific tasks and avoid touching their face and eyes with unclean hands.”
The new protocols according to Nuhu, are a result of a proposal earlier sent by the NCAA to the Ministry of Aviation for approval.
Recall that on March 13, President Muhammadu Buhari had announced a shutdown of airport operations for one month. The shutdown was initially extended by two weeks and then later extended by four weeks; all part of measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision to commence flights at the airports on June 7, according to the NCAA, is to avoid chocking the “system”.
The airports where operations will commence are the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja; Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja; Aminu Kano Airport, Kano and the Port Harcourt Airport, Choba, Rivers State.
“We may resume domestic operations with four or five airports and we hope to expand as we get better. We don’t want to rush everything at the same time and get it choked up,” he said.
On the issue of physical distancing…
The issue of a 2 metre physical distance has, however, not been concluded in the newly approved protocols, as the NCAA has stated that airlines may not be able to adhere to it.
“Every money is important and we cannot achieve the two-meter physical distance. We are hopeful in the next few days we can resolve those issues and allow the airlines to commence operations,” he said.
In his presentation, Air Peace Chairman, Mr Allen Onyema, also disagreed with plans to leave the middle seats of aircraft free as that could further affect the revenue of the airlines.
He suggested instead that the government provide intervention for local carriers to enable them retain their workers as the pandemic has bored a deep hole in their pockets.
“We should be asking the government for specific things that would help retain jobs. Job retention should be first and foremost. These people’s livelihood are endangered and we must do everything possible to keep their jobs.”
Job listings spike up by 183% in April –Jobberman
Jobberman released figures showing a 183% increase in job listings on its platform in April 2020, thanks to its #UnityInAdversity campaign.
Notable job placement website, Jobberman, has released figures showing that there was a 183% increase in job listings on its platform in the month of April 2020.
This increase, according to Jobberman, is a result of the #UnityInAdversity campaign which allowed companies to post job listings and access Jobberman’s database of over 2.2 million professionals across Nigeria for free, rather than paying the usual fees. This was the company’s way of showing support to businesses and individuals, amid the economic challenges which resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the release from Jobberman, this campaign came at a cost to the company since it was trading off its revenue by offering for free, the same services which formed its major source of income.
“At the beginning of March, Jobberman Nigeria saw a 70 percent decrease in job listings due to the reduced economic activity caused by the enforced lockdown and many companies shutting down recruitment budgets to cut costs. Jobseeker sign-ups also decreased by 17 percent. Jobberman took the bold step to put employers’ and job seekers’ needs first” the statement read.
The campaign, which is billed to run till June 30, has paid off greatly as data for April’s job listings alone was more than that of the entire Q1 2020 period. See a breakdown of the job listings below:
- Almost a fifth of the positions (18.79%) were listed in the tech sector
- Banking, finance, and insurance accounted for 9.27%
- Education and training had 6.78 percent
- IT & Software positions accounted for 11.69%
- Sales had 13.32%.
Note that with the increase in job listings, job seeker sign-ups also increased by 39% in April alone.
Speaking about the campaign, the CEO of Jobberman Nigeria, Hilda Kragha said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has made the process of connecting talent to opportunities more complicated and we are fully aware of the strain businesses and individuals in Nigeria are facing. We plan to be here for the next 10 years so making this small sacrifice to help our users navigate these difficult times is something that we think is definitely worth doing”.
Kragha also noted that the campaign has encouraged healthy competition as candidates strive to show themselves qualified for the position.
“We have found that soft skills such as emotional intelligence, business etiquette, time management, which are often overlooked and underestimated in Nigeria, can make a big difference. We know the power of soft skills and we are committed to empowering individuals with the training and soft skills they need to succeed in the workplace” she explained further.
Sequel to this, the company also launched a free soft skills training programme to help job seekers (between age 18 and 30 years) acquire the needed soft skills and better their chances of gaining employment.