Items filtered by date: Thursday, 14 February 2019
Authorities in Indonesia have conducted raids in Surabaya, and Makassar city on Sulawesi island to snuff out couples indulging in amorous act to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
 
Amorous couples were urged to quit the celebration as the raids were carried out to quash any wayward gift-giving.
 
About 100 students in the second-biggest city, Surabaya, demonstrated against the chocolates-and-flowers celebration, saying it promoted Western decadence and casual sex.
 
“Say no to Valentine’s now!” chanted the high schoolers, most of them teenage girls in hijab head coverings. Some held placards with phrases like “Sorry Valentine’s Day, I am a Muslim”.
 
School principal Arief Himawan warned that couples giving each other chocolates or other treats can quickly lead to sin.
 
“We want to remind our young generation not to be caught up in Western culture,” he told AFP.
 
In conservative Aceh province — the only place in Indonesia that imposes Islamic law — a fresh Valentine’s prohibition was issued, citing religious norms.
 
People are publicly whipped in the region for a wide range of offenses including selling alcohol and gay sex and similar bans have been ordered in previous years.
 
While Valentine’s was off the cards for some, many Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam and celebrate the day with chocolates and flowers for their loved ones.
 
Meanwhile in India, more than 10,000 schoolchildren, some as young as six, made a Valentine’s Day pledge not to marry without their parents’ consent.
 
The vast majority of Indian marriages are arranged by families and couples who defy tradition to marry outside caste and religion face a severe and sometimes deadly backlash.
 
Some 10,000 pupils aged six to 17 and even some teachers took a vow at 25 schools to “love and respect their parents till eternity” in the western state of Gujarat — the stronghold of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
“I will always respect their decision because no one in the world has sacrificed for me like them,” said student Samadrita Banerjee.
 
People in swifty-changing but still largely conservative India also often frown upon unmarried couples who can find themselves being abused and harassed in public places.
 
Elsewhere, a school association in the southern state of Karnataka alerted teachers and parents to ensure children did not celebrate Valentine’s Day by bunking classes to go to shopping malls or the movies, The Times of India newspaper reported.
 
 
Source: The daily telegraph
Published in World
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria has adjourned for further hearing of the N6,441,369,617.73 suit instituted against Zenith Bank Plc, by a Lagos businessman, Olusola Adejugbe and his company Tonique Oil Services limited over alleged excess and illegal charges.
 
By a further amended statement of claim accompanied by written statement on Oath sworn to by Adejugbe and filed before the court by Lanre Ogunlesi SAN, the businessman averred that in the course of his business engagements, his company Tonique Oil Services Limited obtained several credit facilities from Zenith Bank PLC while he pledged three of his properties as securities for the loan facilities.
 
The plaintiffs averred that three different transactions leading to this litigation occurred in the company’s current account whereby excess interest and charges were discovered. The company demanded for a reversal but the bank refused.
 
A forensic accounting firm was commissioned to scrutinize and analyse the Company’s account. It was then discovered that between August 2006 and December 2013, excess interest and charges on the Company’s account by Zenith Bank Plc amounted to N1,842,471,801.99.
 
By a letter dated 19th February 2008, the bank granted Tonique Oil Services Company commercial paper facility of N2,568,644,276.09 to finance the purchase of 30,000MT of Petroleum products, but N2,501,270,000 was credited into the account of the company.
 
However, it was alleged further that instead of Zenith Bank financing the purchase of 30,000 metric tons of Petroleum products for the company as per letter of offer, the entire sum of N2,501,270,000 was diverted by the bank for the purchase of its own shares during the bank’s initial public offer, a conduct that is unethical, unprofessional and reprehensive.
 
In addition, out of the sum of N104,363,212.03 assessed as dividends payable on the bank’s shares only N42,173,498.43 was credited into the company’s account leaving outstanding balance of N62,169,713.60.
 
The bank’s shares purportedly bought by the Tonique Oil Company with the facilities granted by Zenith bank were managed by the bank so much that the bank eventually liquidated the shares after the value has nose-dived and depreciated.
 
Another activity on the Tonique Oil Company current account with the bank was the sale and purchase of a property in Port Harcourt that belonged to one of the shareholders /customers of the bank who needed to clean up some of his obligations to the bank. It was the bank who introduce Tonique Oil company to the shareholders 50,000 square meters of land out of which the company bought 20,000 square metres for the purpose of expanding its business earnings.
 
To facilitate the purchase of the land, the bank offered the company a term loan of N500,000 and it was part of understanding of the company and the bank that after the purchase of the land, the bank will finance the company’s Tank forms to be built thereon.
 
After the purchase of the land, the bank took possession of the title documents of the land as collateral but reneged on the promise and understanding to finance the Company’s tank farm on the land and since 2008 the land had been under the management of the bank and the same had been lying fallow.
 
In this circumstance, the plaintiffs contended that Tonique Oil Company was not indebted to the bank and any alleged indebtedness could only have been arisen as a result of the unconscionable and illegal acts of the bank’s officials in debiting the company’s account with astronomical spurious interest charged, consequently the plaintiffs also contended that such interest charges are illegal in that they contravene the Central Bank of Nigeria Monetary Credit and Foreign Exchange/Trade guidelines.
 
The plaintiffs financial consultant computed other charges that were passed into the account of the company, base on relevant policy circulars, guide to bank charges of Central bank of Nigeria and discovered that the bank excessively overcharged the company on interest on overdraft, COT, and VAT on COT, Management Fees, upcountry transfer fees, interest on commercial paper, foreign exchange purchases and letter of credits.
 
Consequently, the plaintiffs are contending that they are not indebted to the bank rather the bank has overcharged the plaintiffs to several billions of Naira.
 
The plaintiffs are urging the court to declare that Zenith Bank being a bank within the supervisions and control of CBN cannot charge interest on any facilities granted to them beyond the official approved policy rate of the Central bank of Nigeria.
 
The plaintiffs are also urging the court not only to restrain the bank from selling their property pledged as securities for the loan but to also compel Zenith Bank to pay Tonique Oil services company the sum of ₦6,441,369,617.73 being the total excess charges debited into the company’s account by the bank and interest on the same amount at the rate of 21% per annum from the date of judgement of the court until final liquidation.
 
However, by its further statement of defence accompanied with statement on oath sworn to by Senior Assistant Manager, Internal Control and Audit Department of Zenith bank, Vincent Ohanugo and filed before the court, the bank denied almost all the company’s claim and stated that the company was granted the following loans: ₦2.5 billion regular commercial paper , $36 million united state Dollars import finance facility, $6,648,000 commercial paper /usance facility $9 million Dollars import finance facility via usance facility $11 million Dollars short term import facility of ₦500 million.
 
 
Source: PmNews
Published in Bank & Finance

South African power utility Eskom needs a cash injection by April to survive, the country's public enterprises ministry warned in a presentation on Wednesday, although it later changed its wording to say the firm was "facing liquidity challenges".

State-owned Eskom, which supplies more than 90 percent of the power in Africa's most industrialised economy, cut electricity for a fourth straight day on Wednesday.

Eskom is laden with more than $30 billion (23 billion pounds) of debt and is battling a shortage of capacity that threatens to derail government plans to lift the sluggish economy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week that the government would support Eskom's balance sheet but said details would be announced in a budget speech by the finance minister on Feb. 20.

The department of public enterprises, which oversees Eskom, said in a presentation to parliament that Eskom was technically insolvent and would "cease to exist" at the current trajectory by April, unless it gets a bailout.

The ministry later sent a version of the same presentation to journalists which it said had been corrected, which removed the timeframe and in which it substituted the words "will cease to exist" with "is facing liquidity challenges". A ministry spokesman did not answer calls seeking an explanation.

Analysts say Eskom no longer generates enough cashflow or earnings to meet its debt-servicing costs, putting it at risk of default.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, however, ruled out privatisation of the utility.

Fears over Eskom's financial viability drove the rand 1.5 percent weaker against the U.S. dollar.

The yield on the benchmark government bond, which moves inversely to its price, was up 2.5 basis points as investors fretted about the economic impact of a crisis which could see South Africa lose its remaining investment grade credit rating.

"With Eskom in the midst of trying to find a solution to its financing needs, investors are more nervous as to what this means to (rating agency) Moody's," Citi economist Gina Schoeman said in a note.

"Markets are highly sensitive to even a negative outlook decision because of how close this places South Africa to a WGBI-exit and inevitable ZAR depreciation and increased vulnerabilities," she added, referring to the World Government Bond Index (WGBI).

Moody's, the only one of the "big three" agencies to rate South Africa at investment grade, is scheduled to review the sovereign on March 29.

South Africa is rated "junk" by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch and if Moody's joins them, the country will be booted out of the WGBI, which may prompt investors to dump its assets.

FRUSTRATION

The public enterprises department said on Wednesday that Eskom was struggling to keep its mainly coal-fired plants running due to coal shortages and poor maintenance, with 40 percent of breakdowns a result of human error.

The cash-strapped company said it would cut 3,000 megawatts (MW) of power from the national grid from 0600 GMT on Wednesday, likely until 2100 GMT. This follows a similar cut on Tuesday and 4,000 MW on Monday in the worst power cuts seen in several years that drove the rand currency down on Monday.

The power cuts have led to frustration among ordinary South Africans with traffic gridlock in major cities during rush hours as traffic lights stop working and some mothers struggling to feed their children.

"I have a baby, so making her bottles was a challenge because I had nowhere to boil water, which resulted in me having to go to a restaurant that has a generator just to get boiling water," 28-year old Anazi Zote, mother of a 10 month-old daughter, told Reuters.

Business owners with no access to backup power sources have also been hit.

"From work to home to everywhere. At the moment the lights are off and we are using the stairs because the elevator isn't working, and I'm on the 11th floor … it's frustrating," Leroy Erasmus, 25, a risk and surveying consultant, told Reuters. 

Firms in the mining sector, the backbone of the country's economy, are looking at alternatives to reduce their dependence on Eskom and monitoring the situation closely.

"Extended load-shedding (power cuts) would have a severe impact on the viability of mines, particularly deep-level gold and platinum mines," said Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for South Africa's mining body.

Harmony Gold said on Tuesday that it was in talks to build a 30 MW solar plant to supply power to some of its assets, in an effort to cut its electricity costs and dependence on Eskom.

Gordhan said the government was worried about the impact the power outages could have.

"The Eskom board is taking steps to ensure that load shedding (power cuts) doesn't become a permanent feature of South Africa this year," he said.

 

- Reuters

Published in Engineering

Twitter might just make it a little easier to silence unwanted attention from strangers -- or to forge a new friendship. It's testing profile previews in its iOS app that show more about a user without taking you away from your timeline.

If you're included in the test, tapping on a user's @ handle in a tweet will show a card with their basic details and give you an option to follow or mute them. You can either return to your usual browsing or view their full profile if you need more details.

The company's safety team elaborated on just why it's experimenting with these previews: they make it that much easier to figure out who's involved with an account. You may have a better sense of who's a bot or creep and deal with them accordingly. This could add an extra step to viewing full profiles, but it could also encourage more people to check profiles before they respond to unfamiliar people.

 

Source: Twitter

Published in Telecoms
Nigeria’s crude oil production including condensate has taken a dip, falling to 1.999 million barrels per day in January from 2.081 million bpd in December, figures from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has revealed.
 
This is contrary to a production benchmark of 2.3m bpd used for the 2019 budget estimates by the Federal Government.
 
However, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, in its latest monthly oil report released on Tuesday, said Nigeria’s oil production dropped to 1.687 million bpd in January from 1.797 million bpd.
 
It would be recalled that OPEC and 10 non-OPEC countries agreed in December to cut oil production by 1.2 million bpd effective from January for an initial period of six months to shore up what many expected to be weakening market fundamentals ahead.
 
Nigeria’s oil production was to be cut by 53,000 barrels to arrive at a new quota of 1.685 million bpd down from Nigeria reference production figure of 1.797m bpd.
 
The OPEC’s 14 members pumped 30.81 million bpd in January, down from 31.60 million bpd in December, according to its Monthly Oil Market Report.
 
Oil prices have recovered since December, when they fell to a 15-month low, with ICE Brent trading above $62 per barrel this week.
 
 
Source: The Ripples
Published in Business

Zimbabwean gold miner RioZim said it had suspended production at its three mines for the second time in four months because the central bank had failed to pay it in U.S. dollars for part of its gold deliveries.

Gold producers in the southern African country sell their output to central bank subsidiary Fidelity Printers and Refiners and are supposed to be paid 55 percent of their earnings in U.S. dollars. The remainder is paid via electronic dollars into their bank accounts.

RioZim, which is 95-percent owned by local shareholders, is Zimbabwe’s second biggest gold producer and last October threatened legal action to force the Reserve Bank to pay it more dollars for part of its output.

The gold miner said since December, it had experienced “significant and persistent” delays in dollar payments, affecting its viability.

“Consequently, the company has recently been forced, once again, to involuntarily suspend production across all its three gold mines pending full payment of its foreign exchange proceeds,” RioZim said in a statement.

The company said it continued to engage the Reserve Bank but if negotiations failed, it would shut its mines indefinitely.

Central bank Governor John Mangudya did not respond to calls for a comment.

Zibmabwe adopted the U.S. dollar in 2009 to tame hyperinflation, but is facing acute dollar shortages and that has sent prices of basic goods spiralling and inflation rising to double digits. 

Mines Minister Winston Chitando said on Monday Mangudya would soon introduce a monetary policy tool to alleviate the foreign currency shortages that have affected miners.

Gold is the country’s single largest export earner and production reached an all time high of 33 tonnes in 2018 from 27 tonnes the year before, official data shows, driven by record output from small scale producers.

Big mining companies say the acute shortage of dollars, which has also sapped supplies of fuel and medicines, hampers their ability to expand production and start new projects.

 

- Reuters

Published in Business
South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe has announced that he will donate half the revenue generated by his assets to his foundation.
 
Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Wednesday hailed Patrice Motsepe’s decision to give half of the funds generated by his family’s holdings to the poor, as a milestone.
 
Motsepe is the first person outside of the Unites States to join the ‘Giving Pledge’, an initiative started by Warren Buffet and Gates, which encourages the super-wealthy to donate at least half of their money to charity.
 
The African Rainbow Minerals chair announced the funds will be channeled through the Motsepe foundation.
 
The money will be distributed to various issues affecting the poor including health, education, unemployment and the upliftment of women.
 
Gates has wished the South African billionaire well.
 
“It was a wonderful thing to hear how the Motsepe’s really, as part of their moral conviction as a family, believe in giving back. I want to congratulate them.”
 
Meanwhile, Motsepe said the most effective way to deal with joblessness and poverty is to create a business environment that is globally competitive and attractive to the private sector.
 
“We don’t want Africa to forever be a continent of charity and a continent of donations. We want Africa to be self-sustaining.”
 
The businessman said the donation will contribute towards making South Africa a better place.
 
“People in my position have a huge responsibility to South Africans who are less fortunate.”
 
Motsepe will consult with church and traditional leaders, as well as various charities, to decide where the money goes.
 
 
Source: News Express
Published in World

Nigeria is preparing for its general election. But will it be credible? Nigerian voters are well aware that the elections will not be won solely by votes or popular consensus. There are several other variables that influence election results.

These include the incumbent’s control of state security apparatuses, grassroots structures, and control of institutions such as market traders associations, and the National Union for Road Transport Workers.

The road transport workers’ union, which acts as a canopy for bus drivers, conductors, and motor park touts in Southwestern Nigeria, has a history of providing foot soldiers for employment as election thugs with skills in ballot box snatching and voter intimidation tactics.

In addition, the possibility that the election could be rigged cannot be ignored.

Questions around the credibility of elections in post-independence Nigeria can be traced as far back as the “First Republic” which lasted from 1960 - 1966. After allegations of massive rigging in the 1965 elections the country’s western region was engulfed in the infamous “Operation Wet-ie” riots.

The riots pitted rival political groups against each other leading to Nigeria’s first military coup in 1966. From then on the country experienced a series of coups. Between 1966 and 1999, when the country made a decisive break with military politics, Nigeria experienced eight military coups. In that same time period three general elections were conducted.

Tumultuous past

The years outside of military rule were comparatively brief and arguably overshadowed by the spectre of the military. When elections did happen they were plagued by strong allegations of electoral fraud. Since 1999, when the country broke with military rule, five elections have been conducted all of which have been tainted by controversy.

It’s clear to see that Nigeria has survived a tumultuous political history. Going into this next election, questions still remain about the credibility of the country’s electoral system, and the viability of it’s governance structures. Looking back things have often gone wrong, but are there instances where things have worked out well for the electorate?

I would argue that there have at least two instances when voters got what they asked for. One is the June 1993 presidential election, which is considered to have been relatively free and fair in its conduct, its eventual annulment notwithstanding. Another is the presidential election of May 2015 when the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, gracefully accepted defeat by conceding to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Yet I still feel that Nigeria’s electoral system needs a complete overhaul if it’s to perform its functions with as little external interference as possible.

Shadow of military rule

The country has been ruled by military administrators more than it has by democratically elected leaders. For 29 years of Nigeria’s independent history military dictators have had a grip on its leadership. This is compared to just 20 years of democracy. The result has been that electoral rigging and malpractice are rife within Nigeria’s electoral process.

Since 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari, both of whom were previously military dictators spent a combined 12 years in power. President Buhari is now seeking a second term. As a result, there are still those who argue that the country’s transition from military rule to democracy is not quite complete.

The executive arm, for example, still maintains certain authoritarian characteristics that are reminiscent of the military era. One of these is the use of the armed forces to manipulate election processes. For instance, during the recent gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states voter intimidation by the security forces was rife. This was done to scare away opposition voters and give the ruling All Progressives Congress an edge.

The electoral commission

Another factor to consider is the supposed independence and impartiality of the Independent National Electoral Commission which is in charge of running the elections. Critics point to the fact that the commission chairperson and others in the commission are nominated by the president. This calls into question the credibility of the entire electoral commission.

Further, Buhari has just appointed Amina Zakari as the new collation officer. Zakari will oversee the committee responsible for the national collation centre from where results of the presidential election will be announced. But Zakari has been alleged to have a family relationship with the president. This has raised suspicion within opposition circles that the government intends to rig the polls.

To make matters worse, the behaviour of the electoral commission in previous elections hasn’t always been above reproach. This has lent credence to the criticisms bout the body’s impartiality. In the run up to the 2007 general for example, the Supreme Court ruled that the commission had no power to disqualify candidates in the eleventh hour as it had purported to do in the case of opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar.

The opaque nature in which recent gubernatorial elections have been held has also added to the fears of a rigged presidential poll. The September 2018 gubernatorial election in Osun, for example, was panned by election observers as being riddled with voting irregularities like voter harassment, and interference by “inappropriate persons”. These irregularities were reinforced by the high number of security officers deployed to the state during the election period.

The involvement of the security apparatus in tilting this tightly contested election in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress is considered to be an indicator of how things could pan out in the general election.

Role of outsiders

Observers like the European Union and the US also exert a measure of influence on Nigerian elections. By ramping up the rhetoric on the importance of free and fair elections they play into the hands of the opposition who have historically appealed to foreign powers to umpire the electoral process.

Incumbent governments, on the other hand, have typically been on the other side of the argument. Nigerian governments have often cited what they call the “neo-imperialism” of countries like the UK and the US and decried their interference in Nigeria’s sovereignty. This resistance to foreign interference was most recently evidenced in comments made by Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, who threatened foreign observers with death if they engaged with local politicians.

Former president Goodluck Jonathan also trotted out the “foreign interference” trope when he claimed in his recently published memoir that the US played a hand in ensuring that he lost the 2015 election.

And a few weeks ago the ruling All Progressives Congress joined the bandwagon when they issued a statement telling the EU to not undermine Nigeria’s sovereignty.

Not all grim

Despite all of the above, it’s not all grim. There are some positive precedents that can be built on.

For example, despite predictions that there would election violence during the 2015 poll, Jonathan did the honourable thing by conceding defeat to Buhari.

His concession reinforced the notion that elections need not be a “do or die” affair. This peaceful transition after just one presidential term in office also set a positive trend for elections across Africa.

But with the slim margin between the incumbent, Buhari, and his main contender Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party – this narrative might need to be reinforced when Nigeria goes to the polls again on February 16.The Conversation

 

Ini Dele-Adedeji, Teaching Fellow, Politics & Development Studies, SOAS, University of London

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis
  1. Opinions and Analysis

Calender

« February 2019 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28