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Tech group suspends Crowdfunded relief to Nigerians

Better Angels, an initiative formed by a group of tech entrepreneurs, announced the decision to suspend its crowdsourcing of relief funds

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Tech group suspends Crowdfunded relief to Nigerians

On Monday, Better Angels, an initiative formed by a group of tech entrepreneurs, announced the decision to suspend its crowdsourcing of relief funds launched to support Nigerians during the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown in the country.

The suspension of wearetogether.ng, its website, was announced via its twitter handle and came on the same night that the Federal Government declared a gradual easing of the lockdown.

In an official statement on its website, titled ‘A sense of a beginning,’ the group appreciated the Nigerian tech community for buying into the idea and rallying to provide the needed support for giving succour to Nigerians.

“From ideation to going live took us about 3 days and while our amazing developers did their thing, We reached out to the wider tech community and without fail almost all came in,” it said in appreciation.

(READ MORE: Tech Roundup S02E16)

Why the suspension?

It was noted that the suspension of the relief programme, which had been expected to run till December 2020, was necessitated by the inability to raise more funds.

Sigma Pensions

“We are not an NGO (this hurt our ability to raise more money), we are not even a company… It felt foreign, but let us all take solace in the fact that in the not-too-distant future this will be the norm.

“We suspend wearetogether.ng with a debt of gratitude to all, but most importantly to the recipients – we will continue this work. We will sunset it, but get it into the hands of academics, researchers and think tanks” it said.

The tech experts who came together to launch the crowdsourced relief funds were simply identified by their first names in the statement:

“Ebun, Chidozie, Iby, Favour, Wale, Koye, Albert, Maria, Theo, Mark. Iyin, Oo, and all the donors and everyone who played a part.”

(READ MORE: COVID-19 relief: Group of Techpreneurs use BVN to disburse funds to Nigerians)

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11 days of achievement

The fund was launched on April 17, 2020 with a message on its social media handles.

While it lasted, the disbursement which was done on a daily basis, required applicants to enter their account numbers and Bank Verification Numbers to apply, after which qualified applicants were credited the sum of N10,000 each.

The narrow window for applying barely lasted more than few minutes and some applicants had complained about not being qualified despite repeated applications. According to the group, the windows were closed as soon as all received monies were disbursed.

Coronation ads

According to the audit report on the site, https://wearetogether.ng/audit, the group received a total of ₦17,701,318.62 from 189 donations, and gave out ₦17,390,000 (N10000 to 1739 recipients) for the 7 days which disbursements was done.

Also, a total of N409,500 was spent on BVN validation charges, according to a post on their Instagram handle. BVN validation was a prerequisite before any payment was approved.

Although it lasted 11 days, disbursements were only done on working days of the week.

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View this post on Instagram

Here’s how much we have spent on BVN Validation.

A post shared by Better Angels (@wearetogether.ng) on

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Parting words

In its farewell statement, the group said, “We do not buy into the “government vs private sector” narrative – both sides must work together.” It also promised that the tech community would continue to “build solutions that create jobs, build a wider umbrella, and reduce needless suffering.”

Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career.As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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Columnists

Why the proposed Borno power plant may not materialise 

The glaring security challenge cannot be overlooked in considering a major power plant project in Borno State.

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Only a few days ago, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, led a delegation to Borno State to meet with the Governor of the State, Babagana Zulum.

In the conversation with Zulum, Kyari promised the establishment of a gas-fired power plant in Borno State within a maximum of 4 months to solve the recent blackouts that resulted from insurgents cutting off Borno from the national grid since January this year.

In Kyari’s words, “We have talked to each other and we think it’s very possible to establish a dedicated power plant in Maiduguri which will serve current needs of power supply not only in Maiduguri but to other parts of the neighbouring cities.”

Yet, there is a significant possibility that the power plant promised by Kyari may not materialize for many reasons, the first of which is security. In the meeting with Kyari, Governor Zulum had noted: “The ongoing insurgency has cut off the entire Borno from the national grid in the last three months. We put all our efforts and restored it back… but unfortunately, after 48 hours, the same group of insurgents went back and destroyed the main tower again.”

This glaring security challenge cannot be overlooked in considering a major power plant project in Borno State, particularly noting that the State and its surrounding communities have been the hot zone of insurgent and terrorist attacks by Boko Haram insurgents since 2009. Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have particularly been states where the insurgents have set up shop and carried out various activities, including kidnap, extermination of entire communities, burning of markets and religious buildings and the attack on the United Nations compound, in each case claiming tens or hundreds of innocent lives.

One report reveals that at least 37, 500 people have been killed by the insurgent group since May 2011, a modest number, some say. Also, till date, some of the secondary school girls kidnapped in the April 2014 Chibok incident are yet to be returned to their families. It is then bewildering how Kyari intends to see to the construction and operationalizing of this gas power plant.

Additionally, while the Minister of Petroleum for State, Chief Timipre Sylva, announced last year about the discovery of oil and gas deposits in the North, we have not seen any exploration and production kick-off. It then begs the question of where the gas for the Borno power plant intends to be sourced. The only gas pipeline that runs through the North – the AKK- is still in its first phase of construction out of three phases and has been earmarked at the earliest, to be completed in 2023 – not counting the typical delays the project will experience along the way.

Should the AKK by some stroke of luck materialize much earlier than the target date, the pipeline route is a considerable distance from Borno. It runs the route of Ajaokuta-Abuja-Katsina-Kano, its endpoint, a striking 481km from Borno State. Thus, there would have to be construction of a tie-in pipeline almost as long as the AKK from Kano to Borno State to get gas to Borno.

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Sigma Pensions

Optimists may reference the oil and gas discovery in the North and how production may start soon, thus obliterating the need for a 481km pipeline. This optimism however is not well-founded, as insecurity has been shown to be a major risk to oil and gas projects everywhere in the world. One of the major reasons the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline proposed to run from Nigeria to Algeria was abandoned was due to security challenges posed by Nigeria’s Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the Tuareg guerilla movement in Niger and other insurgent groups along the proposed route of the pipeline.

These increased the risks across board, including for completion and operations through the lifecycle of the project. As such, failing to fix the security threats in northeast Nigeria makes any proposed gas plant project a pipe dream. Transporting gas via LNG trucks is not a better option, given that the drivers and their cargoes would be in danger of being kidnapped, shot at or bombed. The risks for both personnel and investors are high.

In any event, promising a power plant in 4 months for the people of Borno is unconscionable, since a typical gas power plant will take between 1 to 6 years to construct in relatively peaceful regions. What the government needs to do instead of making promises it cannot keep is to work arduously to fix the security challenges in Northern Nigeria and at the same time consider using decentralised solar power to provide power supply to homes, government institutions, schools and businesses while plans to produce gas in the region or transport gas to it are underway.

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Business

Lagos Commissioner of Police dismantles road blocks on Lagos-Badagry expressway

The Commissioner warned the concerned Area Commanders to take action on full compliance as any defaulter will be sanctioned accordingly.

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The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered the immediate dismantling of all illegal roadblocks by police teams from the command on the Lagos-Badagry expressway.

The directive is to checkmate the illegal activities of the police on that route which have been condemned by the government, some stakeholders and international bodies and also bring sanity and decency to their operations along that axis.

That disclosure is contained in a statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, on Saturday, April 10, 2021.

Adejobi in the statement said that CP Odumosu gave the order on Friday while addressing Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers in the command on the general security situation in the state and reviewing the anti-crime strategies of the command in order to sustain its feats on crime control.

What the statement from the Lagos State Police Command is saying

The statement from the Lagos Police Command partly reads, “In his bid to restore sanity and decency to the operations of the police along the ever-busy international route, Lagos/Badargy Expressway, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered for the immediate dismantling of illegal roadblocks by the police teams from the Lagos State Police Command.

The police boss, while reacting to some complaints from the general public and some security reports on the police activities along the international route, ordered the Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers whose jurisdictions fall along the Badargy Expressway; Festac and Area K, Marogbo, to withdraw their men from the illegal roadblocks and embark on aggressive motorised patrol and surveillance to police their areas and the route.

The Commissioner of Police confirmed that the illegal police roadblocks along the route have been condemned by the government, international bodies and interest groups and they must be dismantled without delay,” he said.

The Commissioner, however, noted that other police operatives from other police formations, outside the supervision of the Lagos State Police Command who operate along the route, would be contacted to adjust and do the needful to restore sanity to their operations.

Sigma Pensions

The CP Odumosu then warned the concerned Area Commanders to desist and take necessary action on full compliance with his order as any defaulter will be sanctioned accordingly.

 

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