By Olaolu Bilau

Recognising the important role Cooperative Societies play in the socio-economic development of the country, Airtel Nigeria, Diamond Bank Plc and Mutual Benefit Assurance have given their support to the advancement of the cooperative sector in the South West.
These trio’s business solutions provides benefits designed to promoting, strengthening and improving the business performance and economic wellbeing of thousands of members of cooperative spread across Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara States.
Airtel’s Close User Group (CUG), a product to which cooperative members can subscribe to enjoy free calls to other members at unbelievably low rates unavailable on any other network.
Diamond Bank offers special hassle-free banking solutions to cooperative societies and their members who are part of the recently launched zero interest Cooperative Small Business Loan (COSBIL), facilitated by the National Association of Cooperative Consultants.
The bank is the official banker of the project which promises zero interest  N100,000 minimum and N200,000 maximum loans to members of registered and functioning cooperative societies in the South West.
According to Mrs. Omobolanle Ogunsanwo, Business Manager, Diamond Bank Plc. Bodija branch, Ibadan, through cooperative societies, the bank is reaching out to the mass unbanked that is, people at the grass root who find it difficult coming forward to open accounts and the goal is to assist people in the cooperative sector achieve their dreams.
Ogunsanwo said: “Our bank is welcoming to cooperative societies. That is why we have a product specifically designed for them. Knowing fully well some of them have issues with registration with Corporate Affairs Commission, we designed a product that can meet their needs, even with little documentation”.
Mutual Benefit Assurance on it’s part is bearing the risk connected with COSBIL. In the event of death of a beneficiary of the loan, the insurance company is providing a Group Life Insurance cover for members of the cooperatives societies who pay N2,000 premium yearly which attracts N200,000 as the sum assured.
Omobolanle Ogunsanwo, Diamond Bank, Ibadan.



* Says Chinese companies are no competitors In Nigeria



In line with global best practices, leading global construction company Julius Berger International recently organised a strategic meeting with its Nigerian shareholders to brainstorm on fundamental issues bordering on the company’s business investments, operations, safety and most importantly profitability in the country, reports BANKOLE ADESHINA in Lagos



It was held at the at the prestigious Radisson Blue Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos. The event was billed for 11 am prompt and the stage had been set one hour to the commencement time. There was no African time.

The company’s top officials led by the Managing Director, Mr. Wolfgang Goetsch, who was represented by the Financial Director, Mr. Wolfgang Kollerman, arrived the venue a few minutes to the time, in jovial mood, brandishing generous smiles to all and sundry.

But whatever it was that informed Kollerman’s cheerfulness, the same sentiment was probably not shared by the shareholders as shown in their facial expressions as they filed in one after another into the hall. This is typical of shareholders who are always anxiously awaiting pronouncements on their dividends on such occasions.

It was obvious there was tension of sort. But the tension was soon doused after Kollerman mounted the podium to disclose the impressive performance of the company in 2013, the lucrative contracts already secured and the good prospects in various investment areas in the coming years.

While apologising for Goetsch’s ‘inevitable absence,’ Kollerman started his speech with an ongoing strategic meeting involving the company’s Managing Director and the Coordinating Minister of Economy, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, which he said was going to lead to the Federal Government’s offsetting some of Julius Berger’s outstanding fees and  mobilisation for ongoing projects to the tune of over N20billion.

“The year under review had been very challenging, as there were delayed payment by government at all levels and with a high volume of public sector clients, the group was highly impacted.

“Due to this, the Managing Director is in a critical meeting with the Coordinating Minister of Economy, Dr. Okonjo Iweala, and I’m informed that over N20billion would be paid to us before the close of work today (Tuesday),” he added.

With that information, the mood of the shareholders soon changed. It was replaced with meticulous smiles and rapt attention to the presentation of Kollerman.

And why not? The company has made incredible growth and recorded big profit in the year under review. And it’s the turn of the shareholders to reap the fruit of their labour (investment).


6 Per cent Increment in Turnover


With 6% increment in its turnover from N201.57billion to N212.74billion compared to the previous year, Julius Berger declared the sum of N16.22billion as its profits before tax in the year under review.

This means the company recorded 31% increase in its previous profit before tax margin, which was estimated at N12.34billion.

According to Kollerman, Julius Berger’s “profit after tax increased by 2 % from N8.26billion previously to N8.436billion,” adding that “Retail Earning also increased by 37% to the tune of N18.86billion in the year under review.” He also reported to the company’s shareholders that their company expended the sum of N23billion on the procurement of new heavy equipment to facilitate its construction projects across board.

Kollerman was, however, sad over what he described as government’s marginalisation through excessive taxation, noting that the Federal Inland Revenue Service confirmed that his company remitted the sum of N24.7billion as payment for withholding tax during the year under review.

“But we have filed complaints about the excessive taxation and are gradually having our refunds,” he added.

He, however, admonished Nigerians to realise that Julius Berger is not a charity organisation and should never expect anything like “low housing unit or charity projects from us. We are not government. We are a company primarily interested in making profits, not even growth. We achieve this true delivery of high quality services to our clients.”


Sunny Nwosu: Berger Interested in Growth


The seeming ambiguous statement, was put in its proper context in a subsequent interview with the Chairman of the Audit Committee and Chairman, Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Sir Sunny Nwosu, who explained that Julius Berger couldn’t be more interested in growth now than ever.

He said the logic was that if the company was not after growth, how did it recorded impressive turnover compared to the previous year, adding that the significant increment in it profit margin was the manifestation of the established growth witnessed over time.

He said: “Of course the company like any other focused on its growth too. It’s in growth that you earn a robust profit and achieve more. What the Managing Director was emphasising was that under the Company’s Risk Management Framework, Julius Berger Nigeria would only accept project that are not under security zone. No matter how lucrative it may be, the company will never accept it; it doesn’t want to take jobs that will put it personnel into trouble.

“For instance, the company just resumed back to work at Bayelsa State, after it was sure that there is guarantee for the safety of its workforce.”

For fear of being attacked or kidnapped, Julius Berger has practically abandoned most of its project sites under security threat zones, with outright boycott of most Northern states because of the insurgency of the dreaded terrorist group, Boko Haram.

Specifically, in response to the question on the insecurity in North-east Nigeria, as advanced by one of the stakeholders, the Representative of ARM Investment, Mrs. Tayo Ibironke, noted that the company can’t run away from the reality on ground.

“We have practically pulled out of the troubled zone. As a matter of fact, under our Risk Management Framework, Julius Berger has practically ceased its operations in most of the Northern states, except for skeletal contracts like furniture that we are having with clients in Kano and Kaduna”.


Upward Review of Dividends


The high point of the parley was the disclosure that there was a proposal by the company’s managers to review upwardly shareholders’ dividends to N2.70k per share from it previous status. And as good as it sound, the proposal will still be subjected to majority approval at the company’s forthcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) billed for June.

In the submission of another concerned shareholder, Mr. Nornah Awoh, Julius Berger was asked about its competition and survival plans, especially against the encroachment of the wealthy Chinese construction companies in the country.

“As a matter of fact, we are not in any competition with the Chinese neither are they. There is no basis for that what so ever….You see, Nigeria is a very huge market for construction companies around the world. For instance, at the moment, we have projects worth N462billion that we have not started and this will run for the next two and half years. And there are still more prospects. So practically, there was no basis for any competition at all. Maybe be there are competition between the Chinese Companies and other like HI-TECH and co but not us, definitely,” Kollerman replied.


Nestle shareholders demand bonus shares, establish water factory

Some shareholders of Nestle Nigeria Plc have demanded the issuance of bonus shares by the company, in the current 2014 financial year.


The shareholders made the demand at the company’s 45th Annual General Meeting (AGM), held in Lagos.


They said bonus shares to shareholders would increase the company’s market capitalisation on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).


According to them, Nestle’s recapitalisation would enhance minority shareholders stake and create activities in the company’s listed shares on the NSE.


Mr Sunny Nwosu, National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, said that the bonus issue would increase the company’s share capital.

Nwosu said that the recapitalisation would increase the company’s number of shares tradable on the NSE.


He also urged the company to enhance its support to farmers by bringing them to terms with modern technology.


Mr Timothy Adesiyan, President, Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association, commended the company for the impressive results posted for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2013.

Adesiyan said that the script issue would make the company’s shares more available on the NSE.

The company declared a total dividend of N20.21 billion in the period under review.

The company declared a final dividend of N24 and paid an interim dividend of N1.50 per share, bringing the total dividend to N25.50 per ordinary share of 50k held by investors.

The amount paid as cash dividend showed an increase of 27.5 per cent over the N20 paid in the previous year.


Addressing the shareholders at the meeting, Chairman of the company, Mr. David Ifezulike, attributed the performance to short term and long term initiavtives embark upon by the company to ensure sustainable future growth.

Meanwhile, Nestle would commission a new ultra modern water factory in Abaji, near Abuja, in 2015. The new facility will occupy about 14 hectares of land and would cost N4.6 billion, disclosing that the company had earlier in the year inaugurated an ultra modern distribution center in Agbara, Ogun State.

The chairman, however, urged the shareholders to embrace the e-dividend and e-bonus platform for quick payment of dividends.



PenCom to sanction recalcitrant employers

..PFAs pay N24.6 billion to 84000 retirees in 8 years


Following the promulgations of the new Pension Scheme Act by the National Assembly, the industry leading regulatory body, National Pension Commission (PenCom) has hinted on its preparedness to clampdown on defaulting organisations and those that fail to remit their employees’ contribution.


Investigations have reveal that some employers after deducting this money from their employees salary and remuneration they have failed to remit it accordingly.


This was disclosed to The Niche by the Executive Secretary, Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp), Susan Oranye during the May Day 2014 celebration in Lagos, where PenOp ceased the opportunity to educate and enlighten Nigerian workers on the important of maintaining Retirement Savings Account (RSA).


According to Oranye, the issue of remittance has become a huge challenge for the regulatory authority, all the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) and allied bodies within the pension industry.


“Remittance is a challenge,” she said “but it is something that the PenCom as well as all the different operators is facing and they are trying to handle, they (PenCom) is coming out with lists of recalcitrant employers,” Oranye disclosed.


According to her beyond listing the names of the defaulting organisations, the body alongside PenOp and industry operators such as PFAs and Pension Fund Consultants (PFCs) are following up with these organisation and have started arranging seminars, interactive sessions so that they can find out what is preventing them from remitting their employees’ fund.


She said employers of labour should see adequate remittance of pension funds of their employees and adoption of such scheme by those that are yet to do so as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) to their employees and the society.


“The funds are for their employees and it can be seen as a form of CSR on the part of the employers because when you are seen to be looking after your employees in the expect of pension, and your employees are comfortable definitely they will be loyal, because they know that you care about their welfare. And as long as they have that mindset, they are more loyal to you, work harder, they are more productive and the bottomline grows,” she enthused.


The Niche was also learnt that since the enactment of the Pension Act in 2004, all the PFAs have paid the total sum of N24.6 billion to about 84000 retirees nationwide.


Oranye, who praised the work of PenCom in the last 8 years but suggested that the industry still need increase awareness and communications said “Since 2004 till date, about N24.6 billion has been paid to over 84,000 retirees, no queues, no stories,” she stated.

“This is a new dispensation and this is what we are trying to get the workers to understand that this is not the old scheme and this is not the scheme where people line up, cry and beg for their money. The new contributory pension scheme is really working, it is really focused on the Nigerian workers, it is transparent, fully funded, safe and every workers should join.”


On why the PenOp chose Workers Day to break its new campaign, a member of PenOp Rebranding Committee, Idu Okwuosa, who is also a senior manager at Stanbic IBTC said pension awareness is still very low in the country despite the fact that Nigeria still holds the position of the nation with hardest working individual on the continent.


“PenOp is creating increase awareness for the important of pension for the individual. We are also trying to create awareness of the important to the employers, so they know that Pension is not just a bill that they need to pay because everyone is saying if I can avoid it why would I pay it? But the truth of the matter is, it has far reaching ramification effects on employees and if your employees are not happy with you or are not comfortable then they won’t work for you.”


Oranye urged employers to open Retirement Savings Account for employees while imploring workers to see the scheme as the opportunity to work hard and retires well. The new communication campaign by PenOp that is yet to hit the public domain with the theme “Things Don change o” is targeted at increasing the level of aware amongst the employers and employees as well deepened the value of the scheme particularly with the new Act of three and above compulsory scheme.




Unilever, one of the leading manufacturers of house hold products in Nigeria recently launched another new variant of Closeup toothpaste brand called  ‘Close up Naija Herbal Gel’. The product is a blend of Aloe Vera, which serves as an anti-bacterial agent, Mint leaf extract which gives fresh breath and Lemon extract for white teeth.  The new Closeup Naija Herbal gel toothpaste was developed to celebrate the ‘Naija’ spirit.


Speaking at the launch; Brand Building Director, Unilever Nig. Plc, Mr David Okeme, stated that the essence of the Naija Herbal gel toothpaste is to encourage young Nigerians get close naturally, the Naija way. He stated that Nigerians are known as being energetic, resilient, creative, and differentiated in their style.


Okeme stated that Closeup created a mix that is not only unique to Nigeria but is an embodiment of the Nigerian spirit. He believes that it is a milestone achievement for the Closeup brand and Unilever Nigeria as it will help reach out to young Nigerians and satisfy their need to be Nigerian. According to him “the future is here, the future is now, the future is the Nigerian youth and we acknowledge and celebrate you”.


Also speaking at the launch, the Category Manager, Oral Care, Unilever Nig Plc Oiza Gyang, stated that the new variant will meet the needs of young Nigerians, who want to exhibit their uniqueness as Nigerians and create more opportunities for the youths to get closer and express themselves more confidently.


Tolu Dima–Okojie, added that Close Up has been brightening up the smiles of Nigerians since its launch in 1975 and quickly rose to be the undisputed market leader in Nigeria saying that Close Up is committed to improving the oral health hygiene of Nigerians and the new Closeup Naija Herbal Gel toothpaste, is another way of showing this.


The Launch of the herbal Gel tagged ‘Natural Naija’, provided a platform where Nigerians can clearly state what makes them a Nigerian.


Closeup has been able to clearly re-in force its understanding of Nigeria’s oral care needs and re-state its commitment towards sustaining their position as the best oral care product in the market.

With this new offering, Nigerian’s have a chance to truly experience the benefits of revolutionary herbal toothpaste, created specifically for the Nigerian youth.



Airtel Empowers Nigerian Youths with Skill Acquisition Scheme

trains Niger Delta youths on mobile phone repairs

Leading telecommunications services provider, Airtel Nigeria, has taken another huge step towards youth development in Nigeria by creating an empowerment initiative aimed at providing the youths with practical knowledge in mobile phone repairs.

The Basic Mobile Phone Repair Module (BMPRM) offers a two-week certificate course, which equips participants with fundamental knowledge of mobile phone repairs.

The initiative, which is organized by Airtel Nigeria and facilitated by experts in phone repairs, is also designed to empower participants to become Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) owners.

The first session was held in Port Harcourt with 40 participants and according to the Telco, the inaugural phase of the programme has been scheduled to cover another 100 youths drawn from Bayelsa, Edo and Delta States.

Upon completion of the training, the participants will be set up as APRP operators, Data and SIM selling outlets and SIM Swap agents among a host of other opportunities.

Speaking on the initiative, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, noted that Airtel came up with the idea in line with its vision to encourage Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria and also to empower hundreds of youths through the programme.

Ogunsanya: “As more mobile devices are coming into the Nigerian market, there is growing demand for technicians who can repair phones and other mobile devices. We also appreciate the fact that millions of young people need to engage in productive ventures that can guarantee them stable income.

“This training is part of our plans to start building a crop of SME businesses that will spin off our core business and also bring Airtel closer to our customers. It is a platform which will assist our youths to channel their energy in the right direction. At Airtel, it is our commitment to empower Nigerian youths and provide the necessary support to develop the talent in them,” said Mr. Godfrey Efeurhobo, who represented Ogunsanya.

He also mentioned that the programme has been designed in a way to allow young people both male and female who are interested in learning the skills enroll, adding that it attracts no financial implications for the participants.


Ijaye Ojokoro, a city in Lagos State, South West Nigeria may soon turn to a royal battle field between the present occupant of the royal palace, Oba Lambe Taiwo and the acclaimed rightful ownership to the throne, Chief Ezekiel Akinwande Akintonde, who prides himself as the true rightful person to be crowned the Olu of Ijaye Ojokoro land.

With history dating back to the 18th century, the town was famous for being peaceful where residence enjoyed and co-exists with the original land owners within the area. It was one of those places that recently enjoyed the provision of some developmental amenities provided by Lagos State Government.

The area boasted the provision of standard police station, electricity, pipe borne water, school and a handful of good access roads.

Although, it has produced its current and first royal father, Oba Lambe Taiwo, stories flying around revealed that battle for the true accendant to the throne may still not be over because of various issues including litigations and cold wars between Oba Lambe Taiwo and the Baale of Ijaye Ojokoro Land, Chief Ezekiel Akinwande Akintonde.

Briefing newsmen on the development, Baale Akintonde gave a brief history of how his grandfather from 1804, gave birth to his father in 1911, after which he begot him(Baale Akintonde) in the year 1939.He said he became the eleventh Baale of Ojokoro land since 1986 till date.

Explaining further, Chief Akintonde said , his great grandfather migrated from Ofin in Lagos Island area of the State , as the undisputedly first settler on the said lands years back. He said Oba Lambe Taiwo came to Ijaye Ojokoro land as land speculator hired by a family member.

When the palace of Oba Lambe Taiwo was visited on the issue for clarification, it has almost become a shadow of its glorious past. It cut quiet a pitiable sight. No one would have imagined that such an almost new or recently upgraded palace would have declined rapidly and lose its pride so soon.

Residents of Ojokoro are worried that the area may be heading towards an imminent collapse of social, economic and security ruins over this development. The situation appears to have sent fears and apprehension to the residents most of who feared it may generate into unrest.

At present, Chief Akintonde affirmed that some of the newly installed Baales in the land are either ex-convict or one plot of land owners with questionable characters.

One of the elders, who identified himself simply as Ogundare said, the problem and mis-understanding between Oba Lambe Taiwo and Chief Ezekiel Akintonde over the royal issue has been on more than a decade. He said Oba Lambe Taiwo has not been performing all the traditional rites he was due to have performed, but instead Chief Akintonde performs these rites.

Ogundare also noted that many private business initiatives that once thrived and provided employments for youths in the area had become moribund because of lack of resourcefulness of Oba Lambe Taiwo and the hostility that exists.

Another resident Mr. Johnson laments that the statement in the kingship of land use has resulted in a significant lack of development of Ojokoro area.

Investigation shows that relationship between the Oba and the Baales in the land has assumed a steady decline since he was forced on them few years ago.

Chief Ezekiel Akintonde therefore call on the Lagos state government to investigate and probe publicly the royal institution of the Local Government and resolve the matter.








Oba Taiwo Oluwalanbe of Ojokoro Land


MultiChoice launches BoxOffice in Nigeria


MultiChoice has officially launched BoxOffice in Nigeria, in what is yet another move to provide DStv subscribers with the ultimate in home television entertainment.

BoxOffice is a service that allows subscribers to conveniently rent and watch the latest blockbuster movies in the comfort of their homes, right on their DStv Explora decoders.

With BoxOffice, DStv subscribers can now rent and keep movies for up to 48 hours, for N400 per movie, and your first movie is courtesy of DStv Nigeria. Thereafter customers using the service may choose to use any of the flexible payment options to rent and make anytime movie time with BoxOffice.

Box Office will give subscribers access to a wide variety of movies from comedy, drama and family movies, to horror, fantasy and a whole lot more, including a selection of great Nollywood titles such as “Plantain Girl” and “In Her Shoes” to start with.

Mr. John Ugbe, the Managing Director of MultiChoice Nigeria says that with BoxOffice, DStv Premium subscribers can enjoy the best and latest of Hollywood and Nollywood on their Explora decoders.

“DStv services like BoxOffice form part of a bigger MultiChoice strategy to use cutting-edge technological innovation to help people enjoy some of the best entertainment available at a time that’s convenient to them.

“And with the all-new Explora decoder, we’re taking on demand video to a whole new level, by offering subscribers an experience that mimics the Internet, but on a decoder, and without the high data bills.”

“With this innovative service,” Ugbe adds, “our subscribers can watch the latest blockbusters before they become available on TV, legitimately. “BoxOffice delivers quality, simplicity, choice and convenience at the touch of the GREEN Button”


BoxOffice on Explora

With up to 20 movies at any one time, the DStv Explora is packaged with a brand new, stylish HD user interface, which makes finding favourite movies on BoxOffice so much easier.

Content is displayed using HD poster-art – just like an Internet video service.  In addition, the Explora has powerful search features that help subscribers find movies quicker and easier as it searches across the Electronic Programme Guide. Explora’s remote control further enhances the experience with dedicated shortcut buttons to BoxOffice and other viewing options. You can also watch a trailer of the movie before renting.


About MultiChoice

MultiChoice is Africa’s leading pay-television operator with a presence in 49 countries on the continent and its adjacent Indian Ocean islands.  It provides premium television services – DStv and GOtv which are supported by world class subscriber management services. DStv provides the best local and international channels, including first-run films, documentaries, children’s programming, news and sports.  As pioneers in pay-tv, we continuously develop technology that makes information and entertainment easily accessible and available catering for a broad range of family viewing requirements. Being a proudly African business we continuously invest in the development of those communities in which we operate, enhancing education through initiatives such as our MultiChoice Resource Centre projects



L-R:Tolu Dime-Okojie,Asistant Cotegory Manager oral care Uniliver,Nigeria Plc;Mr.Shahzeb Muhamoud,Vice President Costomer Development,Uniliver Plc;David Arome Okeme,Brand Building Direcctor Uniliver Nigeria Plc;Oiza Gyang,Category Manager oral care,Uniliver Nigeria Plc,and Mr.Robbert De-Vreede,Vice President,Brand Building,Uniliver Nigeria Plc,at the Close Up Herbal Naija Launch,held in Lagos…10-05-2014.




CEO, F316 Consulting, Folake Oladotun Ayeni, Chairman & Executive Producer, NEC, Ayeni Adekunle and  CEO, X3M Ideas, Steve Babaeko at the Nigerian Entertainment Conference 2014 on Wed


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