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
DEAL: Nigeria’s Cowrywise raises $3m pre-series A funding
Nigerian fintech startup, Cowrywise has raised $3m in pre-series A funding.
Nigerian fintech startup Cowrywise has raised $3m pre-series A funding.
This funding round was led by Washington DC-based Quona Capital, with participation from Sahil Lavingia, Tsadik Foundation, and a syndicate of local and diaspora based Nigerian angels.
Founded by Razaq Ahmed and Edward Popoola in 2017, Cowrywise gives Nigerian’s access to a range of goal-oriented savings and investment products.
The Quona led investment brings Cowrywise’s total funding amount to $3.3 million since its 2017 launch.
The company first introduced savings on its platform, followed by mutual funds and they currently have 19 different mutual funds and at least 20% of the total mutual funds in the country are listed on its platform.
According to Ahmed, while Nigerian’s millennials may have high digital connection levels, they lack access to high-quality savings and investment products. Which is what Cowrywise is offering.
The startup has more than 220,000 users currently. According to the Techcrunch, there are only half a million Nigerians actively investing in mutual funds. When compared to the total number of active bank accounts in the country of more than 40 million, it is obvious Cowrywise still has room to grow in the $3 billion markets.
This new funding will be used to increase its customer base and also expand its product offerings, support more fund managers in Nigeria, and build its investment management structure.
What you should know
- Cowrywise, an app that helps you easily plan, save, and invest online with the strongest interest rates and investment returns is the first Nigerian startup to be backed by Quona Capital.
- In June 2018, Cowrywise closed an Angel round of $50,000 led by Microtraction. In August 2018, it raised a $120,000 seed round from Y Combinator and another seed round from Kairos by December of the same year.
- It received undisclosed funding from K-50 Ventures in April 2019, before receiving an $80,000 grant from UK-DFID backed accelerator, Catalyst Fund. A first for a Nigerian startup.
- In February 2020, Quona Capital led the $14 million series A round for Kenyan eCommerce Startup, Sokowatch.
- The company has also significantly invested in South African startups like Lulalend, Yoco, ZOONA, and ALLLIFE.
Whatsapp to require biometric authentication for PC and web access
WhatsApp is adding a new biometric feature to confirm users’ identity when linking accounts to PC or the web.
WhatsApp is adding a new biometric feature to confirm your identity when you want to link your WhatsApp account to a PC or the web.
The social media app is rolling out this new feature for its web and desktop apps, which will let people create an additional authentication layer using biometrics when they want to use WhatsApp on desktop or web.
Users will now have the option (not a requirement) to add in a biometric login, which uses either a fingerprint, face ID, or iris ID — depending on the device — on Android or iPhone, to add in the second layer of authentication.
When implemented, it will appear for users before a desktop or web version can be linked up with a mobile app account.
WhatsApp told TechCrunch that it is going to be adding in more features this year to bring the functionality of the two closer together. There are still big gaps: for example, you can’t make calls on the WhatsApp web version.
To be clear, the biometric service, which is being turned on globally, will be opt-in: users will need to go to their settings to turn on the feature, in the same way, that today they need to go into their settings to turn on biometric authentication for their mobile apps.
WhatsApp has added that it will not be able to access the biometric information that you will store in your device and that it is using the same standard biometric authentication APIs that other secure apps, like banking apps, use.
This new feature will work alongside another, which sends your phone notifications whenever somebody logs into your account on the web or a computer.
What you should know
- The company has been getting a lot of backlashes since it announced it will now share its users’ personal information, including phone numbers, IP addresses, contacts, and more with Facebook from February 8, 2021.
Nigeria, now 2nd most corrupt country in West Africa – Transparency International
Nigeria is now the second most corrupt country in W/Africa with Guinea-Bissau the only country more corrupt than Nigeria in the region.
The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020 report published by Transparency International indicates that Nigeria occupies the 149th position out of the 180 countries surveyed as well scored 25 out of 100 points.
With the current ranking, Nigeria is now the second most corrupt country in West Africa with Guinea-Bissau the only country more corrupt than Nigeria in the sub-region.
It can be recalled that in the 2019 report, Nigeria was ranked 146th out of the 180 countries surveyed, scoring 26 points out of 100 points.
What you should know
- The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is an annual survey report published by Berlin-based Transparency International since 1995 which ranks countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.
- The CPI scales zero (0) to 100, zero means “Highly Corrupt,” while 100 stands for “Very Clean”.
- Nigeria’s ranking on the corruption perception index has continued to drop in the last four years.
- With the current ranking, Nigeria is two steps worse off than she was in 2018 when she scored 27 points to place 144th out of 180 countries.
- Only 12 countries are perceived to be more corrupt than Nigeria in the whole of Africa. The countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Eritrea, Burundi, Congo, Guinea Bissau, and South Sudan.
- Somalia and South Sudan remain the most corrupt nations on earth, according to the CPI 2020 ranking.
- Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Germany, Sweden Switzerland, Norway, The Netherlands and Luxembourg are the least corrupt countries in the world.