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FG closes all routes leading to Eagle Square for Independence Day celebrations

The Federal Government has notified the public of the closures of roads leading to the Eagle Square in Abuja.

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COVID-19: FG inducts committee for creative industry palliatives, LICENSE, FG reiterates commitment to implement reform of broadcasting code , Economy: FG restates commitment to border closure, FG releases new broadcast media regulation to affect DStv’s monopoly , Digital Switch Over (DSO) in broadcasting will transit to a private-sector-driven enterprise - Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has announced that all routes leading to the Eagle Square in Abuja would be closed from midnight 30th September, ahead of the parade to mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary on Thursday, 1 Oct. 2020.

READ: N4.16 billion unpaid lottery revenue recovered by EFCC

This was disclosed by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, in a statement. He said the measures were put in place to further enhance security in and around the venue.

“Consequently, Shehu Shagari Way, Ahmadu Bello Way, outward and inward-bound Airport Roads and adjoining roads will be blocked to traffic,” Mohammed said.

READ: PenCom recovers N17.51billion from defaulting employers, imposes penalties

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The FG announced that the Federal Secretariat Complex would be evacuated by 2.00 pm on Wednesday, 30 September 2020, “which means all workers within the precinct of the Eagle Square are expected to vacate their offices from that time,” Mohammed added.

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Corporate Stories

Standard Alliance Insurance plc: What happened to the most capitalized insurance company of 2010?

After a 39-year journey of high and lows, shareholders await Awodiya to deliver on the promise of profitability.

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Standard Alliance Insurance Plc recently held its Annual General Meeting, the first in the last four years. The financial reports received at the AGM were that of FY 2017 and 2018, bringing up the million-dollar question; what is going on with this underwriter?

Nairametrics Company of the Week focuses on the 39-year-old highly ranked insurance company, its past achievements, and current realities.

Almost 40 years ago, the company was incorporated in July 1981 as a Private Limited Liability Company. At this time, it was known as Jubilee Insurance Company Limited until August 1996 when it became Standard Alliance Insurance Company Limited.

It became a public liability company on 30 May 2002 and listed its stocks on the main board of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in December 2003.

The Company has an authorized capital of N7 billion with 14billion ordinary shares at 50kobo each. Major investors include Gemrock Management Company Limited which holds 20.09%, Standard Alliance Investments Limited holding 19.81%, and FCMB Plc holding 5.42%.

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The ‘men’ who run the show

On the board of directors, the company has a team that manages its affairs from the top level to its subsidiaries.

Mr. Johnson Egu Chukwu heads the board as Chairman and was recently reappointed into the position; while Mr. Omotayo Awodiya, a seasoned Insurance Practitioner, recently became the Managing Director, succeeding Mr. Richard Ododo who had barely spent a year on the job.

Others on the board include Mr. Oduniyi Odusi (Executive Director), Mallam Haruna Mohammed Uwais F.IoD, Chief Uzoma Igbonwa, and Agnes Okiemute Umukoro as Directors.

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Business operations

Like any other insurance provider, Standard Alliance Insurance plc provides a wide array of insurance products for its customers. There is aviation insurance, bonds insurance, erection Insurance, contractors/all risk, Fidelity Guarantee, Goods-in-Transit, and machinery breakdown insurance, amongst others.

To provide a comprehensive cover for relevant insurance products, the company also has arrangements with re-insurance companies both locally and internationally for full customer protection.

In the business of insurance, there will always be the issue of customers who think the insurance packages are too expensive, and it is to protect against such scenarios that the Research and Risk Management departments carry out research on insurable risks and insurance costs, and makes practical cost-saving recommendations to the benefit of its customers.

There are also consultancy services to cover existing but unidentified insurable risks so that customers are advised on how to handle issues that disrupt their business operations, but are generally considered uninsurable.

The company also prides itself on its swift processing of claims; although, there are not many testimonials to buttress this.

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Standard Alliance also appears to have positioned itself in line with advancing technologies, so that bulk of its processes and operations are now fully automated. With a simple call or email, a customer can start processing claims or make inquiries about products and services. The hundreds of employees and over a thousand agents across the country also provide an advantage for the company, giving it more leads and subsequently customers.

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Its seamless operations are a result of an efficient blend of the human resources and world-class applications used to drive quality services.

Any returns for investors?

Licensed by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) to transact general and special risk insurance businesses, SA Insurance, has grown to become one of the most respected insurance companies both in products and service delivery. So, how has this translated into its profit and losses in the almost 40 years of operation?

Just last month, the company held its 22nd Annual General Meeting (AGM), the first in the last four years. At this AGM, the financial statements for FY 2017 and 2018 were received.

The reports showed a major 88.41% decline in pre-tax profit for 2018 from N277.766 million recorded in FY 2017. The company also recorded a 26% decline in gross premium written at N3.757 billion in 2018, down from the N5.057 billion in 2017.

The company made a Profit after Tax of N58.5 million in 2017 as against N1.3 billion loss recorded in the comparative period of 2016, and Gross Premium written increased from N4.3 billion in 2016 to N4.8 billion in 2017.

Although 2017 financials showed an improvement from the previous financial year, in terms of Gross Premium written, Profit before Tax, and Profit after Tax, the underwriter had run losses amounting to billions of naira in the preceding years.

In the absence of financial reports and AGMs, shareholders have obviously been starved of updates and returns on their investments in the last few years. To worsen matters, the company has been severely sanctioned by the NSE in the last couple of years for failing to file its financial reports.

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The real situation of things

Although the company has several awards on its shelf, most of them are almost a decade old. SA Insurance Plc won the 29th edition of the Presidential Merit Award of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Market, having clinched the top spot among all quoted insurance companies.

It was the Most Capitalized Insurance Company of the Year 2010, the Insurance Company of the Year, World Class Customer Service Insurance Company of the Decade, IT Compliant Insurance Company of the Year, and Safety Performance Achievement Award in the Insurance Sector, all in the year 2010.

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In 2011, the company bagged The Diamond Eye Award for Quality and Excellence in Switzerland.

However, shareholders are no longer finding solace in the past awards but instead seek returns. For obvious reasons, the SA Insurance stocks are also not liquid, so investors will not even find it easy to sell off their shares.

Shareholders will now wait on Awodiya to deliver on the mouth-watering promises of profitability he gave on the assumption of office as the company’s MD. All eyes will be on the lookout for the 2020 Q4 financials, but in the meantime, it does not look like there would be any buying or selling of the company’s stocks as NSE had suspended the company from trading shares in 2018 and again in 2019 due to its failure to turn in the required financials.

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Exclusives

Exclusive: Transport industry in Nigeria is facing new and unpredictable challenges – UBER GM

Ridwan Olalere, General Manager of Uber Nigeria chats with Nairametrics on the challenges in the transport industry, amongst several other issues.

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Transport industry in Nigeria is facing new and unpredictable challenges - UBER GM

With an ambition to be everywhere, especially in cities that have a need for safe, reliable, and efficient transportation; the operations of Uber Nigeria have been hit by two key events in 2020.

The unexpected outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to months of movement restrictions and necessitated social distancing rules, cost transportation companies like Uber millions of naira in revenue.

READ: Uber expands food delivery business in a $2.65 billion acquisition 

Also, the recent #EndSARS protests which rocked Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country restricted the full operations of Uber, as some routes like the Lekki Toll Plaza were blocked by protesters.

Recall, that the #EndSARS protests were hijacked by hoodlums who seized the opportunity to loot, vandalize, and burn public and privately owned properties, culminating in an imposed curfew in Lagos and other states. The Lagos curfew – now relaxed (8pm to 6am), continues to affect the optimal running of ride-hailing services like Uber.

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READ: Uber increases fares in Nigeria

Nairametrics interviewed Ridwan Olalere, General Manager of Uber Nigeria, and he walked us through some topical points, as Uber braces up for the ‘new normal’ including the plans for Uber Boat and Uber Eats in Nigeria.

How would you assess the Nigerian ride-hailing segment in the face of the ‘new normal’?

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We know that the transport industry in Nigeria is facing new and unpredictable challenges. As the coronavirus continues to spread, cities begin to reopen, and the public transport sector begins to move again, it is important to proceed with caution and keep safety in mind.

The travel restrictions put in place by the government were done in order to flatten the curve. In doing so, it is the responsibility of the public transport sector to further understand the detailed guidelines, in order to ensure that measures are in place to put the health and safety of the community first.

READ: Uber withdraws financial forecast, reduces assets value by $2 billion

Thus, it is imperative that we are all prepared to ensure customers are unaffected. At Uber, we are doing our best to support drivers and riders during these unprecedented times; and to limit the spread of the coronavirus, we adapted our safety measures.

In Nigeria, especially in Lagos, the government has introduced some levies on the ride-hailing operators. What is your take on this and does it mean your charges will further go up?

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We are positively engaging with the Lagos State Government and relevant stakeholders on the proposed regulations. We are working to better understand how the regulations will impact the future of our business and network of driver-partners.

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READ: Tayo Oviosu, the journey from Software Engineer to Pagatech

We will give an update in due course. However, we look forward to working in close collaboration with the government to develop workable and accessible regulations that will benefit all.

There is an allegation of ‘double charge’ against your brand by riders – A situation where the driver’s phone reads higher charge compared to that of the rider. What is your take on such development and your advice for riders?

This type of behaviour would be in clear violation of our Community Guidelines. Fraudulent activity undermines the trust on which Uber is built. That’s why we are constantly on the lookout for fraud by riders and drivers who are gaming our systems.

Uber has automated rules in place that warn and permanently deactivate any account or accounts associated with fraudulent activity. We have also put in place a transparent fare structure that is constantly monitored and we always examine consumer price sensitivities to ensure fares are correctly priced so that riders continue to take trips and drivers have access to more fare-paying passengers.

READ: Lagos regulations on ride-hailing companies, fair or outrageous

What is the update on your Uber Boat?

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Uber Boat is the first high profile private sector investment navigating Lagos waterways. The pilot of the service lasted for two weeks after it was launched in October 2019, conveying travellers within specific routes.

We piloted this service because we are aware of the man-hours and productivity that are lost every day due to road traffic in Lagos state, and we are looking at ways to provide commuters with an easy and affordable way to get in and out of the city’s business districts.

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What was your plan for the pilot service?

The pilot service focused on getting locals from point A to point B on popular water-based transportation routes, and created a positive conversation around alternative methods of getting around the city more effectively.

Given this was only a pilot phase, Uber is assessing the feasibility of this product in order to assess whether or not to extend. Uber believes the app can help build the transport systems of the future, and we hope that this product will bring that vision to light.

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When are you likely to bring Uber Eats to Nigeria?

While we are always looking at new features and products, this is not something we are looking at launching in Nigeria at this time.

If you won’t launch that in Nigeria now, what are the other areas Uber plans to invest in?

Uber’s ambition is to be everywhere – any progressive, forward-thinking city that has a need for safe, reliable, and efficient transportation, we want to be there. We are part of a broader mobility movement, establishing smart cities of the future. We are currently working hard to grow our business in Nigeria.

Each city offers its own unique opportunities, we have found Nigeria to be defined by agility, creativity, and adaptability. Uber is all about providing access to safe, reliable, and affordable rides at any time, whilst providing flexible economic opportunities for drivers who want to be their own boss.

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ENDSARS

Buhari gives reason for silence on Lekki Tollgate shooting

Few days after Buhari’s nationwide broadcast, an aide has finally opened up on why the President refused to address the Lekki shooting incident.

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Buhari gives reason for silence on Lekki Tollgate shooting, President Buhari approves N10 billion for National Census

President Muhammadu Buhari has broken his silence on the shooting of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Tollgate, a few days after he addressed the nation on the widespread violence and unrest that marred the protests.

While avoiding to get into any debate until all facts were established, the president vowed to ensure justice for the peaceful protesters who lost their lives.

READ: What happens after the expiration of the 99 years lease term for land?

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who issued the statement on Sunday on behalf of the president, explained that he decided not to speak on the shooting incident until he had access to all the facts.

He also promised that property and business owners affected by the arson across the country would get justice.

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The president appealed to people all over the country to maintain peace and brotherhood as the machinery of the government and the wheel of justice turned against the perpetrators of murder, arson, stealing, rape, assault and malicious damage to public and private property.

READ: World Bank approves $2.2 billion loan for Nigeria

He has also asked parents and guardians not to encourage their children and wards to partake in the ongoing nationwide looting, and destruction of property.

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The president, in the statement, said, “Families must turn back children who bring home unaccounted goods; in the same way, wives must ask their husbands to return looted items brought home.’

He advised that peace, brotherhood and inter-communal harmony are central to Nigeria’s ethos, and urged everyone not to turn against one another in hate.

READ: U.S Department of Justice sets strategy targeted at crypto criminals

He said it was important that the police and other security agencies moved everywhere to restore calm and normalcy as quickly as possible.

Buhari said his administration was working hard through many pragmatic ways to reduce the hardship of the millions of unemployed, poor citizens and those whose lives had been thrown into disarray by the harsh economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The president said, “A government that has launched a massive crackdown on corruption, brought in strong laws for a decisive battle against corruption, pursues loot recovery at home and abroad, and taken strong decisions against those who thought they were above the law, will not fold its arms when an otherwise legitimate and peaceful protest is turning into free-for-all vandalism and looting.

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READ: Zamfara establishes its first gold reserve

“While the administration has, for its part, blocked so many means of looting public money in a war against corruption, it is the expectation that all civil authorities, community, and religious leaders in the country must rise against the organized looting and plunder we are witnessing in parts of the country.

“What is more, is that criminal actions as we have so far witnessed can weaken and erode the confidence of our people and that of foreign businesses in investing in the economy. Looting and vandalism will hurt trade and investment growth in our country, both large and small industries, as well as our hardworking people in the informal sectors of the economy.

“These incidents do not reflect well on any society. They are wrong and condemnable and should not be supported by reasonable members of society.” 

According to the statement, President Buhari commended the decision of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice to prosecute 229 suspects arrested by the police for allegedly using the #EndSARS protest to destroy and loot public and private property.

The President pointed out that his administration had taken note of the grievances of the people. He said, “We have heard you loud and clear,” while stressing that “the violence must stop.”

President Buhari also condemned hate messages and eviction notices to ethnic and religious groups, asking Nigerians to take pride in the fact that our diverse people have been living with one another in harmony for ages.

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He said the right of all citizens to live and work in any part of the country is a constitutional right, which will be defended by the government.

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