Strong credit score will enhance higher funding for MSMEs – Expert

A financial expert, Mr Gbemi Adelekan, has advised Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to ensure a solid repayment history to enhance their credit scores and improve their access to funding.

Adelekan, also the Chief Executive Officer of KwikPay Credit, gave the advice on Saturday in Lagos in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

KwikPay Credit is a financial services provider and licensed lender by Trafalgar Associates, approved by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).

Adelekan said that in Nigeria, accessing credit facilities was crucial for individuals and enterprises to meet various financial needs and increase circulation of disposable income and engender business sustainability.

He emphasised that a strong repayment history would enhance access to higher levels of funding that would enable expansion of small businesses into larger enterprises and increase their performances.

'A short-term loan with a solid repayment history can significantly enhance your credit score in a short period.

'This improvement in your creditworthiness opens up greater opportunities to secure larger loan amounts in future applications,' he said.

Adelekan said that short and quick loans had helped many small businesses to navigate murky economic terrains, particularly those operating under the informal bracket.

'An ice block maker, that hair dresser on the street, the welder whose machine needs to work and other artisans may be unable to go to big banks or development finance institutions to ask for small loans.

'They may not have the requisite paperwork. Accessing small and quick loans online has saved many of these businesses from collapse.

'Fortunately, the money lending sector is fully regulated by the FCCPC, and the rights of borrowers are very much protected,' he said.

He said that non-repayment of loans had adverse effects.

'Owing money for a long time and watching the interest accrue on such a facility can have a psychological effect,' he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

100 Days in Office: Kogi residents score Ododo high

Lokoja residents have scored Gov. Usman Ododo of Kogi, high in terms of delivering democracy dividends to the people in his first 100 days in office.

A cross section of residents, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lokoja, described Ododo as a promising and committed governor that could help develop the state in a very short while.

Ododo was sworn into office on Jan. 27 after winning the Kogi Nov. 11 Off-Cycle election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Mrs Idris oyiza, a civil servant, lauded the governor for ensuring monthly salary payment for workers in the state, saying that he had outshined his predecessor in the area of workers welfare.

'The payment of salaries of civil servants is now 100 per cent, and very regular, which has raised the hope of workers that better days are coming.

'Water that used to be very scarce is available as our taps are running well now. We only want him to help us talk to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) to supply us with electricity regularly too, ' she said.

Mrs Suleiman Zainab, a business woman, said that Ododo had recorded some major achievements in his 100 days in office.

Zainab appealed to Ododo to introduce some economic policies and programmes that would capture other residents, especially those who were vulnerable.

'We want this government to support we the small and medium entrepreneurs with loans and other incentives for us to succeed in our businesses and in turn boost the economy of the state, ' she said

Mr Ibrahim Abubakar, a commercial cyclist, urged the governor to introduce some control on some union officials collecting illegal levies on cyclists without remitting it to government coffers.

Also speaking, Mrs Victoria Jagboro, Provost, College of Education Technical, Mopa, Kogi, said that Ododo had been able to ensure peace in the state within his few days in office.

Jagboro said that the governor was averse to disunity of any kind.

'Yours, is no doubt, a new beginning for our dear state.

'We appreciate your commitment to the well-being of the citizenry and your dogged commitment to the education sector.

'Be rest assured that we will stand by you on this remarkable feat of moving our dear state forward, support all actions that will be taken and mobilise our members to embrace the programs and policies of your administration,' she said.

Retired Cmd Jerry Omodara, the Security Adviser to the governor, described Ododo as an outstanding leader, commended him for the improved security of lives and property in the state.

'Ododo's sterling leadership qualities have resulted in a peaceful atmosphere in Kogi in just his 100 days in office.

'His policies and programmes have supported the overall development of the state, and as well as the well-being of the people of the state.

'Most laudable is Ododo's open door administrative policy to Kogi people along his giant strides in tackling insecurity in the state,' he said.

Mr Bashiru Gegu, the state's Commissioner for Solid Minerals and Natural Resources, congratulated the governor and his deputy, Mr JoelOyibo-Salifu, on their first 100 days in office.

The commissioner said that the 100 days of the governor had been full of activities that had had a positive impact on the lives of the residents of the state.

'In fact, we have seen our governor's genuine commitment to sustaining the legacies of development and performance of former Gov. Yahaya Bello.

'We have equally seen exceptional drive for excellence and good governance.

'This is the way we are congratulating our governor and wishing him more fruitful years in office to keep raising the hope of the citizens,' he said.

Also speaking, the chairman of the state chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Danladi Aliyu, commended the governor for tackling the security challenge facing the state.

Aliyu said that the donation of 42 motorcycles to the local government councils for security was a pointer to the fact that Ododo's administration placed great premium on the well-being of the people.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

UK committed to strengthening bilateral relations with Nigeria -Envoy

The British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Dr Richard Montgomery, has expressed commitment to strengthening existing relationship between the United Kingdom and Nigeria. Montgomery made the commitment in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja, in commemoration of his first anniversary in Nigeria. He said the UK had stepped up its engagement with Nigeria and recorded a significant increase in areas of trade and security, in 2023. According to the envoy, it is obvious that both countries have a very strong set of people-to - people links with a huge Nigerian heritage that works and lives in the UK, just like there is a huge British population with dual nationality in Nigeria. He said that his first year in office was partly driven by the inauguration of President Bola Tinubu and the need for the UK to get to know the new government in Nigeria. He added that one of the highlights of his first year was when he hosted the former foreign secretary of the UK, James Cleverly, who vi sited President Bola Tinubu in early August 2023. Montgomery said that Cleverly met with business leaders and partners across government, adding that after the meeting with Tinubu, both countries agreed to work in three areas. The British Envoy listed the areas as security, trade and investment, and 'reasonable cooperation'. 'Both countries will need to step up their security independence, and they should strongly enhance the trade and investment between them,' he said. He called on African countries to unite and ensure that democracy thrives on the continent. 'They should have a reasonable cooperation because the Nigerian President was the chairman of ECOWAS when a difficult development occurred in the region, like the coup in Niger. 'There was a discussion on these regional issues and how the UK can support,' he said. He commended members of staff of the British High Commission for their professionalism and efficiency. 'I am pleased to say that I have fantastic teams at the British High Commission. ' They work on security and defense, enhanced trade and investment, and they also work on migration, visa and home affairs. 'We have a large development cooperation programmes and technical assistance in key areas, and we need to talk about regional and global foreign policy issues with the Government of Nigeria. 'So, my team has been working on these areas, and I think that was the second big highlight of my first year, and in February, we signed a couple of new detailed agreements. 'In February, we had a big UK security and defence delegation, military security foreign policy, counterterrorism delegates, and they were hosted by the Nigerian National Security Adviser. The Nigerian national security adviser convened all the leadership from Nigeria Security Defense architecture, and we held several days of tours in Abuja. 'And at the end of that, we signed a new security and defence partnership, through which we can collaborate in areas like defense and counterterrorism. 'Other areas are cyber security, c ountering violent extremism, serious organised crime, policing, and also upholding human rights. 'We now have a detailed work plan of operation and security defence,' he said. He said that in February, Kemi Badenoch, Secretary of State for Business and Trade, visited Nigeria and had been working with her counterpart at the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. 'We have agreed on a range of sectors which we are now working on such as agriculture, the creative industries, legal and financial services, education partnerships and to increase mutual trade and investment between the UK and Nigeria. 'And my third highlight is the ability to get around this amazing country and I have managed to visit some states like Sokoto, Taraba, Borno , Rivers and Enugu. 'I also visit Lagos regularly, and I have been to a number of states in between. 'Getting across this country has been a huge highlight and I will like to use this opportunity to thank some people for their warm hospitality. 'I thank the gove rnors, traditional leaders, the business people and civil society across the country.' Source: News Agency of Nigeria

UniAbuja Strike: CONUA dissociates self, says action baseless

The Congress of University Academics (CONUA), University of Abuja Chapter, has dissociated itself from the ongoing strike by the university branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The Chairman, CONUA, University of Abuja Chapter, Prof. Abdul Buba, said this when the group paid a courtesy visit to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah in Abuja on Friday. Buba said the university system could not be grounded because it had no Governing Council, a decision that informed the industrial action. 'We believe in stable academic calendar and that's why we believe that there are other ways of handling labour issues rather than strike actions. 'CONUA addresses issues and not personalities. We also respect opinions of our members and not a predetermined objective of the leadership. 'We address issues without sentiments and meet with the right stakeholders in the pursue of our objectives. 'We are conscious of the negative effects of strikes, and we believe in deploying relevant strateg ies that will yield positive results in modern age of innovation,' he said. He added that CONUA would continue to engage relevant stakeholders to pursue legitimate welfare for its members without dabbling with issues not of the concern to its members. 'The ongoing strike in place in the university, CONUA is not part of it because we believe in academic and service delivery. 'All these five points for the strike are baseless. 'Let me start with the issue of advertorial for the position of vice chancellor, initially if it were that the council is in place everything about employment both the employees and the principal officers start and end with the university governing council. 'But in the absence of the university governing council, the law has no provision for the vice chancellor to appoint any successor so it is the responsibility of the government to do that. So, there is no way the VC can be accused. 'This is because even the advertorial, if you watch and other advertorial that were placed by other universities, it was mentioning the ministry representing the government so this is baseless,' he said. Also, the CONUA Secretary, Prof. Issa Abdulraheem, urged the union to focus on the welfare of its members which was the sole role of establishing a union. 'The union is established to cater for the welfare of its members, all the issues raised by the other union are baseless and have nothing to do with the staff welfare. 'And so we believe that we have ways of handling issues with stakeholders without sentiments of personalising issues. All the points raised by the other unions are not in the interest of its members,'he said. On his part, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah, appreciated CONUA for its stance in not joining the strike, hoping that academic programme by ASUU would commence soon. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the University of Abuja ASUU branch had embarked on a total and indefinite strike on May 2 over alleged university's refusal to conduct elections for the office of the Dean's of faculties and Provost College of Health Sciences. The Union also accused the university of carrying out promotion of some staffers without following due process. Other reasons for the strike, according to the Union include, 'Advertorial of the vacancy of the post of the Vice Chancellor without following due process, among others. Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Only PhD students eligible to bring dependents to UK – Envoy

The UK says only international students coming in for their Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) studies are eligible to bring in dependents to the country. Dr Richard Montgomery, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja. He said that the educational system policy, which changed early 2024, for international students in higher education not to bring dependents into the UK, was to curb the increase of foreign student bringing in dependents. He explained that the huge surge in dependence was putting an unsustainable pressure on many universities, adding that it was the reason these changes were introduced. Montgomery added that before his posting as High Commissioner to Nigeria, he had spoken to some of the universities on the policy change, of which had been in the pipeline for some time. He noted that the Chancellors of the universities had complained of the huge student populations, highlighting that accommodation was a huge challenge, including access to medical services under the National Health Service and access to school if they brought in dependents. According to him, the restrictions do not apply to all categories, adding that those doing a long term research degree, like a PhD or doctorate are not affected. 'Those coming to the UK for doctorate can still bring their dependents but if you are coming to the UK with a study visa for an undergraduate degree, or short term master's degree, I'm afraid the rules have been changed. 'People need to understand why this change was brought in, and it is a sensible change because we have a large higher education sector and most of these universities are in towns across the country. 'There has been a surge recently, in demand for British education and I can give you the macro figures and there has also been a huge increase in foreign students bringing their dependants. 'In the case of Nigeria, in 2019, before the Coronavirus pandemic, there were only one and a half thousand depend ents being brought in from Nigeria, with those on study visas, 'In 2022, that figure had increased to 52,000 dependants; so, that's a thirty fold increase in dependence. And it's not just about Nigeria by the way. 'It is also about all foreign students. We saw similar rises, for example, amongst Indian students coming to study in the UK,' he added Speaking on the policy initiation, he said: 'It is early to ascertain the impact of the policy on undergraduates because these changes were announced in 2023, but came into effect early this year. 'And we would have to wait until September 2024 before we get the next run of academic tickets. 'I think what your wider audience needs to hear is that the demand for UK education is really strong. 'In 2022, 65,000 study visas were approved to Nigerian applicants, 65,000, while in September 2023 we received about 115,000 Study visa applications from Nigeria. 'Of which 95 per cent were approved and over 110,000 study visas were issued last September compared to 65,00 0 of the previous year, there's almost a doubling of Nigerian study visas in 2023 which means the demand is really high. 'And it is something which I am genuinely pleased and proud about that the UK has such a good higher educational sector and we are still at the six economy, and is still one of the biggest economies but we are only 2.5 per cent of the global economy. 'So, we have 17 of the top 100 universities in the world. We have 17 per cent of the top universities, so it is one of our units. 'I really like the demand but there are other factors at play in terms of schooling in the UK. The value of the Naira in the coming months will also determine how easy or hard it will be for many people to afford our education. 'I am hoping that the demand will be sustained,' he said. Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Muslim lawyers’ll foster peaceful coexistence among different religious, ethnic groups – President

Mr Saidu Muhammad, the newly-elected President of Muslim Lawyers' Association of Nigeria (MULAN), says the association will foster peaceful coexistence among different religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria. He stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Ibadan. NAN reports that Muhammad emerged the new MULAN president at the association's 15th Annual General Conference held between Friday and Saturday in Ibadan. He said that the association would strive to identify areas of potential conflicts and nip them in the bud in order to promote peaceful coexistence in the country. Muhammad also said that the association would reach out to other groups such as Christian Lawyers' Association of Nigeria, to promote inter-faith harmony and understanding. According to him, under no circumstance should any misunderstanding among Muslims, Christians and people from other religions degenerate into violence or conflict in Nigeria. 'I intend to reinvent MULAN and take it to a higher le vel of relevance in state, regional and national affairs. 'We will partner with students, youths and women to interface with governments at all levels in order to address their problems and concerns,' he said. Muhammad further stated that the association would be much more than just a pressure group of like-minded peers 'It will become a vibrant voice for re-awakening public consciousness, dialogue and action,' he said. The association's goal, according to him, is to work for the common good of all Nigerians and the Islamic religion. He said that the association would also strive to eradicate ignorance, suspicion and distrust among Muslims through an active campaign and public engagements. 'We must be recognised as a force for the good of all, national integration, ethnic cohesion and, above all, religious tolerance and understanding,' he said. Muhammad said that the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, being a MULAN member, is on an important seat whic h the association could leverage to achieve its objectives and plans for Nigeria and Nigerians. He pledged the association's support to Fagbemi to enhance his success in his position through concrete steps such as initiating and endorsing executive bills for passage into law, among others. The MULAN president noted that the country was currently facing challenges in the areas of employment, education, culture and politics. He, therefore, urged Nigerians to work together to address the challenges in the interest of peace, progress and development of the country. He called on the government to provide an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and give youths a sense of belonging. 'Government must also cut down the cost of governance, which is one of the highest in the world, and ensure that leaders are not allowed to become looters,' he added. He promised to ensure protection of the interests of Muslims in the country, be it legal or otherwise. 'I will encourage recognition, respect and integratio n of Islamic principles and practices in legal proceedings and statutes at all levels of government,' he said. NAN reports that Muhammad, who was born on April 17, 1969, is a 1994 graduate of Bayero University, Kano (BUK). He holds a Masters degree in Law from the same university, specialising in Company and Labour Relations Law. He had, at various times, acted as an advocate, solicitor and arbitrator, with considerable experience, both locally and internationally, in dispute resolution and complex transactions. The new MULAN president, currently the managing partner of the law firm of S.D. Muhd and Co., is a member of many professional bodies, including International Bar Association, African Bar Association and the Nigerian Bar Association. Source: News Agency of Nigeria