By Shola Oshunkeye
The former Group Managing Director, GMD, of the ASCON Oil Company Limited, Grace Olowofoyeku, has named the factors that compelled the board of directors to approve that the company be sold.
She said the clarification became expedient in order to dispel the rumour roiling in the social media that the family of her late husband, and founder/Chairman of the company, Barrister George Enenmoh, was at war with her over the decision to sell the company to its investors.
Until it ran into turbulent waters in 2019, ASCON Oil was one of the leading players in the downstream sector of the economy.
Olowofoyeku, who took over the company in 2005 when her husband and founder of ASCON Oil died in a Bellview airlines crash, said any suggestion of discontent over the divestment “is a lie from the pit of hell.”
“The whole family knew about it,” she declared. “The whole process was done in the open. My children, who were directors in ASCON, as well as other stakeholders, reached a consensus that the best option was to divest. And that’s precisely what we did.
“In fact, my children initiated the move to sell the company. My children saw that the boat was sinking and they said we should bail out. And the family of my late husband, Engineer George Enenmoh, was in full support. Everybody agreed that it was the best thing to do in the circumstance. That’s why we did it and everybody is happy.”
Olowofoyeku, a lawyer, named inconsistent government economic policies, brazen corruption in the downstream sector of the economy, erratic power supply, “strangulating” estimated billings by EKO DISCO, as some of the factors that militated against ASCON Oil, and eventually led to its sale.
“Apart from unfavourable government policies,” the Sabongida Ora, Edo State former GMD continued, “there were other major problems, like the various toll gates created by people from the regulatory agencies down the line. It was impossible for you to transact any business without settling those people. You need to settle heavily before you can do business.
There is also the nagging issue of erratic power supply which keeps you running all your stations on diesel at astronomical costs. This is not to mention the crazy estimated bills that the DISCOs slam on ASCON every month.”
Olowofoyeku underscored the damage that estimated billing did to the company in the few years leading to its divestment, citing the example of the company’s mega filling station at the Admiralty area of Lekki in Lagos, which guzzled N2 million per month in estimated electricity billing.
“What were we selling?” she asked angrily. “We were paying N600,000 per month at our head office (in Victoria Island). Is this place (the headquarters) a manufacturing company? What machines do we operate here to attract N600, 000 per month? None.
“As far as I am concerned, that is oppressive. What business were we doing to generate the income that would enable us pay N2 million for power in just one station, in a month? What were we making in our Admiralty station to be paying N2 million every month for electricity? If you do the maths, you can guess how much we were spending on energy alone. This is not talk about other operational costs, overheads, and so on.”
After taking ASCON Oil to unprecedented heights after her husband’s demise, expanding its retail outlets first from 11 to 39, then, to 57, Olowofoyeku said that, paradoxically, by 2019, the business terrain had become so difficult that the company could hardly do any profitable business again.
“Business became so bad that, in the last four years, we had been gradually laying off staff,” she revealed. “I laid off a lot of staff because we couldn’t pay salaries. By 2019, we had asked 80 per cent of the staff to go home. With that, coupled with the underlying factors which remained unchanged, we had to divest 80 percent. Later, we were left we no other choice but to divest the remaining 20 percent. ASCON Oil is now completely in the hands of its new owners.”
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has confirmed Nigeria’s first Coronavirus (COVID-19) death. Ehanire also said that confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen to 36 in the country.
The minister disclosed this at a news conference on Monday in Abuja. “We have recorded 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria, of this confirmed cases, 25 are in Lagos, six are in FCT, two in Ogun state, one in Edo and one in Ekiti and one in Oyo.
“Of the 36 cases, 26 had travel history to affected countries in the last two weeks, six are contacts of confirmed cases and four no recent travel history or known contact.
“Sadly, we have recorded first death from COVID-19 in the country. ` This was a Nigerian who had underlying illnesses and died due to complications on the 22nd of March, 2020, in Abuja, he had recently returned from UK,’’ he said.
The minister said in summary that as at 23rd of March, 2020; 36 confirmed cases had been confirmed in Nigeria; two had been discharged, one death recorded.
“Of 33 active cases, 32 are critically stable with mild symptoms and one patient is oxygen-dependent,” he said. He, however, said that Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was working closely with the affected states in the country to carry out intensive contact tracing.
“I urge health facilities to be on high alert from the state, local government and law enforcement authority, community leaders and private hospitals.
“They should work with NCDC on any close contact with someone who has been out of the country,’’ he urged.
The minister said following the declaration of COVID-19 as pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the increased spread of COVID-19, the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force-19 had placed restriction on international flights.
“Restriction has been placed on all international flights from today, 23rd of March, 2020, with the exception of emergency and essential flights.
“More measures may be instituted by the Federal and State governments as the situation may arise.
“This is a call to Nigerians to take responsibility in preventing and spreading COVID-19.
“I urge all citizens, all businesses and media houses and all committed Nigerians to take ownership of this campaign by developing communication messages around the criteria,’’ he said.
Ehanire emphasised on self–isolation for minimum of 14 days for travellers coming into the country, even when they feel very well.
He also advised Nigerians to practice social distancing as it reduced the risk of being infected by someone unknown to them.
New on DStv is Little Fires Everywhere, an American drama television
Little Fires Everywhere follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who would suddenly topple their lives. The story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood and the danger in believing that following the rules can avert disaster. This mini–series will premiere on 30 March 2020 on M-Net channel 101 at 10 pm.
American Idol is back for its 18th Season. The season promises to be interesting and exciting with returning judges; Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie with the ever dapper and handsome host Ryan Seacrest. American Idol is back 27 March 2020 at 8 pm on M-Net channel 101.
Noughts + Crosses just in its second episode is a British television adaptation of the first book in the novel series of the same name by Malorie Blackman. The series is speculative fiction set in an alternate history, where black “Cross” people rule over white “Noughts“. This series airs Thursday at 11 pm on M-Net channel 101.
The Affair is back for its final season, it follows the life of a grieving waitress, Alison and her extramarital affair with Noah, an accomplished teacher and budding novelist. The repercussions of their affair will destabilise their respective marriages. It premieres 31 March 2020 at 11 pm on M-Net channel 101.
Not a DStv premium subscriber, then upgrade, step up and join in on the excitement. And while you’re on the move, you can stream matches on DStv Now.
As part of efforts to consummate the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) initiated policy aimed at reducing the figure of the unbanked populace by 20 percent by 2020 and to ensure greater participation in the nation’s financial sector, Heritage Bank Plc has keyed into this initiative to drive financial inclusion and promote economic growth.
CBN has mandated all banks in line with the 2020 financial inclusion target, to have a nationwide Account Opening Week.
The Account Opening Week is an initiative of the CBN, Bankers’ Committee and other Stakeholders to provide opportunities for financially excluded Nigerians and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises to open accounts with formal financial institutions, with the overall aim to access financial services to reduce the current 36.8per cent financially excluded to 20per cent and stimulate economic growth.
Towards this developments, Heritage Bank strategically deployed its technology and large number of staff to reach the large populace who do not have bank accounts in selected states were sensitised and mobilised to designated centres in rural areas, where they opened their personal accounts.
Speaking on this exercise, the MD/CEO of the bank, Ifie Sekibo stated that Heritage Bank has been at the fore front and continued to give its unreserved backing towards reducing the exclusion rate to 20per cent by 2020, create jobs, reduce poverty and improve the welfare of the people.
According to him, the bank succeeded in opening more than 2, 000 bank accounts in designated centres of the following six (6) states; Kano, Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Gombe, Bayelsa and Ondo.
Meanwhile, Sekibo made recourse to Heritage Bank’s supports so far, thereby noting that the bank have been taking aggressive approach with the introduction of agent banking partners.
He pinpointed that the bank has brought on board over 10,000 agent partners since the commencement and launching of ‘corner shop’, which lends credibility to the consistency of the service and how it is changing lives and empowering Nigerians across the country.
At this steady growth rate of approximately 17.5 percent new agent per month, one can say that hitting the long term vision of 100,000 active agents in five years is well within reach.
However, Sekibo explained that financially excluded persons constitute a gap in the financial system and there is no way to create a perfect economy except all these people are brought on board.
“Another issue is that the older generation seem to be averse to technology because they have not been exposed to it and the fear of fraud,” he also said, but assured that the CBN and the banks will continue to improve its technology space.
Nigerian businesses need to prepare and brace themselves for a highly challenging period ahead as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts day-to-day life and commerce.
This follows the Federal and State Governments’ recent announcements of a set of bold measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus in Nigeria, including travel bans, school closures and limits to the size of public gatherings.
“While these actions are necessary and commendable, they are steering businesses into uncharted territory,” says Dr. Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC. “The operating environment, already difficult following years of lacklustre growth, will become even more challenging in the weeks ahead.”
As this health and economic crisis unfold, large organisations will have to contend with the challenge of managing complex operations across multiple entities and geographies – each with its own set of measures in place to tackle the pandemic.
“There is now a pressing need for effective risk mitigation and business continuity measures, and these must include partner firms, suppliers and other stakeholders,” says Dr. Sogunle.
In numerous industries, supply chains and cash flows are being severely disrupted, particularly for those businesses involved in cross-border trade. This makes planning more crucial than ever.
With this in mind, organisations should consider the early loading and planning of payments, as well as intensive cash-flow management and liquidity planning. Those businesses that have lending facilities in place should assess whether these can cope with changed or disrupted cash flows.
Also, businesses involved in cross-border trade can consider measures that reduce the impact on cash flows. Letters of credit, for instance, have a lesser impact on cash flows than upfront deposits. And the disruption of physical trade flows might require an alignment of the associated cash flows.
Meanwhile, the health and safety of employees, clients, and other stakeholders need to be top of mind. Companies should consider separating teams and allowing employees to work remotely, where possible, although the persistence of load-shedding does complicate remote work.
As more employees work from home, connectivity will be key. To enable this, teams could be provided with larger data bundles and afforded remote and secure access to internal systems. And with employees working in new environments, communication will be crucial to ensure that staff are well-informed and reassured, as well as productive.
Comprehensive policies and protocols applicable to both staff and clients are essential. Naturally, hygiene within the workplace and externally is of paramount importance – access to hand sanitizers, for instance, could prevent the spread of the virus.
“It is extremely important that companies remain calm and keep working effectively. Stanbic IBTC recognises that it has a responsibility to do everything it can to help clients keep their businesses and their lives on track.
“As we have come to grips with this new reality that is facing us, we have all made the necessary plans in our different environments and prioritised our requirements so that we can continue to work, interact, and contribute to the society in which we live.
We do acknowledge that our business customers are facing challenges in dealing with the disruption to their businesses. We also understand that in any business or personal financial cycle there can be challenges in meeting financial obligations. These challenges may be heightened especially in times of economic downturns and crises. Customers who are in financial distress should contact the bank as soon as possible. The sooner the bank is informed, the sooner both parties can find a workable solution to address or resolve issues of financial distress. It is not in Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC’s interest to see a business fail, or a home lost. It is in both parties’ interest to find a workable solution. We do urge customers to contact the bank should they experience difficulties. We do not doubt that the impact of the Corona-19 virus has been extremely disruptive,” Dr. Sogunle says.
Stanbic IBTC Relationship Managers are in contact with our customers and are there to provide all the support necessary. Our customers all have individual needs and requirements and we will provide all the assistance necessary on a case by case basis.
“We are encouraging clients to make use of digital channels when transacting and engaging with the bank, where possible, and to contact the bank if a financial strain is foreseen. By planning, working together and remaining vigilant, we can limit the strain on Nigeria’s businesses in the weeks and months ahead,” Dr. Sogunle added.
It was a tensed and emotional Sunday night that saw the check-out of JayKech (Jay and Nkechi) from Ultimate Love, proudly Naija reality television show.
The couple were the fourth couple to be checked out during the Sunday live show after they received the least number of votes out of the four nominated couples from the voting public last week. They, however, left smiling home with N 500,000 and other items in their portmanteau they got in the Love Pad after playing the Jeopardy game on stage.
Meanwhile, five couples were nominated for possible check-out during the live nomination show on Sunday. The couples as announced by the show’s hosts, Dakore Egbuson-Akande and Oluwaseun Olaniyan, are DoubleChris (Chris and Chris Ville), Iykeresa (Iyke and Theresa), Obiebi (Obichukwu and Ebiteinye), PreshDavid (Presh Talker) and Roksie (Rosie and Kachi).
DoubleChris led the pack this week with four nominations, while Iykeresa, Obiebi, PreshDavid and Roksie had two nominations respectively.
The couples with the least number of votes will be evicted during the live check-out show next Sunday.
Adesuwa Onyenokwe, the show’s Aunty, however, announced a new twist to the show. Unlike the past weeks, she revealed to the Love Guests that none of the nominated couples will neither be performing the Monday real-world mission task, nor will she save any of them.
Aunty also disclosed that, henceforth, she will no longer visit the Love Pad and the weekly Masterclasses have been concluded as the last two weeks of the show has been designed for the couples to further strengthen their relationships. She, however, noted that she will continue to communicate with the Love Guests through the domiciled Love Pad tablet.
Voting commenced on Sunday at 9:30 pm and will close on Thursday at 10 pm. Voting can be done via the Africa Magic website and mobile platforms and DStv and GOtv Apps.
Ultimate Love is live 24/7 on DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus, DStv Compact, DStv Confam and DStv Yanga packages on channel 198; and on GOtv Max and GOtv Jolli packages on channel 29.
One of the sons of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has tested positive for the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
Abubakar revealed this on his verified Twitter handle late on Sunday night.
Abubakar, who had a few hours before then issued a statement calling on Nigerians to join forces in fighting the disease, however, did not mention the name of the son involved.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 elections said the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had been informed and the son moved to Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, Abuja for treatment.
He tweeted: “My son has tested positive to coronavirus.
“@NCDCGov has been duly informed, and he has been moved to Gwagwalada Specialist Teaching Hospital in Abuja for treatment and management.
“I will appreciate it if you have him in your prayers.
“Stay safe, coronavirus is real.”