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Whistle-Blower Initiative: LIRS Partners Deloitte To Boost Transparency In Tax Administration

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 The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) has said its Whistle-Blower Initiative will deepen transparency, and accountability and uphold a high standard in the administration of the tax system in the state. The Executive Chairman of the LIRS, Ayodele Subair, at the official launching of the initiative in Lagos on Friday, said the platform was introduced to encourage the reporting of illegal actions or financial crimes, through the appropriate channel, with a view to correcting the violations and optimally boost the tax administration in the state.

He said the scheme, an initiative of the state government, will be driven by Delloite Anonymous and the Confidential Whistle-Blowing facility, a platform run by a globally recognised accounting and audit firm, Delloite Nigeria.

He added that the whistle-blowing facility will promote the reporting of acts of commission or omission that borders on unethical conduct of the LIRS employees, management and other stakeholders through the designated channels to the authorities.

“The facility is designed to ensure that concerns about wrongdoings or malpractice observed in the LIRS administrative and operational activities can be raised by any stakeholder without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination, disadvantage or dismissal.

“This facility does not only provide the avenue to report but ensures the credibility of reports through investigation, feedback to the whistle-blower and ensures protection for such whistle-blower from possible reprisals or victimisation for all disclosures made in good faith.”

“The whistle-blowing initiative is a two-way affair; even though it is aimed at exposing the LIRS staff involved with misconduct, employees of entities who want to report employers who circumvent tax laws or even members of the public who wants to raise the alarm on persons or entities who willfully commit financial crimes leading to revenue loss for the state can make use of the whistle-blowing platform,” he said.

Subair said Deloitte’s engagement as an independent assessor was to ensure an objective and unbiased review of issues raised.

Also speaking at the event,  the Commissioner for Finance Dr Rabiu Onaolapo Olowo said the Whistle-Blower Initiative of the LIRS is a pilot scheme of the Lagos State Speak-Up programme aimed at encouraging feedback mechanism from the general public, boosting their confidence and trust in the operational activities of government.

Dr Olowo said it is logical to choose the LIRS as the pilot scheme for the initiative because it is responsible for more than half of the revenue generated by the state and due to its multifaceted interactions with the members of the public, the Lagos government could use the channel to boost its message of openness and transparency.

He said: “In our pursuit to make transparency, accountability and openness count in governance in the last three and half years, this is one step to help us to wrap up some of the things we have been doing to take government down to the people. We have to appreciate Governor Babajide Sanwoolu for approving this Speak-Up initiative. It will further help us to effectively discharge the policy thrust of this government and we believe it will promote and engender trust and citizen engagement.

“The reason we have chosen the LIRS as the pilot MDA for this scheme is quite obvious because it is the major revenue-generating agency for the state. Today, LIRS accounts for almost 75 per cent of Lagos’s revenue and it engages with the public at multi-faceted levels. Thousands of people across the world see infractions every day but they decided to remain silent because they feel there is nothing they can do to change the situation, but today, we are launching a channel that will encourage and remind people of their civic responsibilities to speak up when they observe unethical behaviour, especially in the process of conducting their businesses with the government.”

Joining the conversation, the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Samuel Egube, believes citizen participation in governance invariably stimulates public trust which consequently enables the government to make the right investment decision on behalf of the people.

He stated that the channel will further open the Lagos State government to scrutiny and the openness and transparency that the initiative generates will lead to more development.

“We believe this channel will enable citizen participation in governance which will surely stimulate the trust of the people in what we do with their investment. You cannot talk about development in South Korea, Singapore or Dubai in the United Arab Emirates without working out how that is connected to the United Nations Citizen Participation Index which states the line of relationship between the citizens and government and this is what this channel has addressed. Since we have launched the 30-year development plan this is another attempt at making the people of Lagos State work together with the government to make the plan works,” he said.

Beulah Adeoye, Partner, Deloitte Nigeria, said the whistle-blowing service provides multilingual, multiple reporting channels including a 24-Hour toll-free hotline (0800TIPOFFS and 0800 847 6337).

He said users can also use Delloite’s web portal (https://tip-offs.deloitte.com.ng); Email ([email protected]) or download the app (Deloitte Tip-offs, and Anonymous App) on the mobile app store.

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PRUDENTIAL ZENITH LIFE INSURANCE RECORDS 75% GROWTH IN PROFIT AFTER TAX IN FULL YEAR 2021 RESULTS

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Prudential Zenith Life Insurance Limited (“PZL”) has announced its audited financial results for the year ended 31st December 2021, recording a 75% growth in profit after tax (PAT) of 1.13b compared to the 646m recorded in the corresponding period in 2020.

The results, which was approved by the Board of Directors of Prudential Zenith and the insurance industry regulator, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), shows that Gross Written Premium (GWP) and Annualized Premium Equivalent (APE) grew year on year by 16.3% and 9.3% respectively. This was primarily driven by 27% growth in new business acquisition for Group Life written during the period.

Investment income grew by 30% year-on-year due to a significant increase in the interest-generating assets of the company, and commission income also increased by 43% during the period. 

The financial performance is a testament to the continued focus on investments, as the company remains committed to building a strong market-leading position in Nigeria by enhancing its capabilities, strengthening its digitally enabled multi-channel distribution network, and broadening the range of products and services that are available to customers in order to meet their needs. 

Despite the challenges experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Prudential Zenith was able to achieve this strong growth in 2021 and is poised to continue improving its performance in the upcoming financial years. Prudential Zenith will continue to develop and launch unique products to meet customers’ needs, leveraging technology and its core corporate governance structure to deliver faster claims settlement. The company will also continue to prioritize the health, safety, and welfare of customers, who subscribe to its unique insurance product offerings.

Prudential Zenith Life Insurance Ltd (PZL) is a subsidiary of Prudential Plc., established in 2017 when Prudential Plc acquired a 51% holding in Zenith Life Insurance. PZL is one of the most capitalized companies in the Nigerian insurance industry with a wide range of individual products including savings & investments-linkedproducts, endowment, and protection products designed to meet the needs of individuals and their families.  For corporate clients, the company’s product offerings includeGroup Life, Key-Man Assurance, Credit Life, School Fees Protection, and Mortgage Protection, ensuring that the welfare of clients’ staff and families are met.  

Prudential Plc provides life and health insurance, and asset management in Africa and Asia, helping people get the most out of life by making healthcare affordable and accessible and by promoting financial inclusion. Prudential protects people’s wealth, helps them grow their assets, and empowers them to save for their goals. It has more than 19 million life customers and is listed on stock exchanges in London (PRU), Hong Kong (2378), Singapore (K6S), and New York (PUK).

Prudential Plc has insurance operations in eight countries in Africa: Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Togo Uganda, and Zambia.  With over 1 million customers, Prudential Africa works with over 11,000 agents and six exclusive bank partnerships, with access to over 600 branches to bring value-added insurance solutions to its customers.

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OONI COMMISSIONS OJAJAMORE, TARGETS MORE JOB CREATION WITH 100 STALLS ACROSS NIGERIA IN 2 YEARS

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The Ooni of Ife, Arole Oduduwa Olofin Adimula Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, today Friday, September 16 2022 at Ile-Ife, Osun state, unveiled an iconic retail outlet branded OjajaMore, a viable food-chain retail store dealing in groceries and other consumables.

Explaining the initiative at the commissioning ceremony held at the premises of the retail store located at the KM 10, Ife/Ibadan express way in Ile-Ife today, the Ooni stated that the establishment of OjajaMore is in fulfillment of his agelong aspiration to redesign retail activities that will be gainfully driven by the Nigerian youths with a view to creating an enduring legacy for Africa in the global space.

“Today, I am exceptionally fulfilled to unveil the OJAJAMORE, one of the profound and timeless initiatives that I envisioned for the modernization of Ile-Ife, Osun State, and other Nigerian cities. It is a triumph and regeneration of retail economies, a reservoir of seamless opportunities for new agro-commodities markets significantly improving access to B2B value chains, a social sanctuary for groceries and other products, and an iconic global brand name that will leave indelible marks on young people through job creation, resolving commoditization issues, and harnessing the integration of locally built flawless novelty digital transactions.

A rethinking of our approach and values for shopping malls in Nigeria and for Nigerians need to be pioneered and readapted. The vision of OJAJAMORE as an indigenous entity with a modern continental outlook is to play a prominent role in people’s lives as a conduit that provides relatable experiences beyond traditional shopping while driving a robust economic culture. It will broaden the boundaries of business growth, increase efficiency, and incorporate value-added elements that will span a remarkable experience and instill a deeper bond in customers.

The OJAJAMORE is part of my multichannel investment strategies, which will naturally serve the Ife Grand Resort and Industrial Park, the OJAJA Arena (a 3,000-seat multi-purpose event center), the OJAJA Hostel (a 2,000-bed hostel facility at Obafemi Awolowo University), and other iconic facilities that I have built in Ile-Ife and the surrounding communities over the last six years. This was a promise that I made at my historic coronation six years ago, and I will stop at nothing to fulfil the truest vision of Ile-Ife as both a symbol of ancient and modern economic powerhouse”. Ooni said.

The Natural Head of the Oduduwa race worldwide stated that he intends to use the new retail store initiative as his deliberate way of getting youths gainfully engaged.

“This is a job creation for the Nigerian youths. OjajaMore simply means where people (consumers) can pay less and get more. It is a combination of royalty and retail to create a different shopping perspective starting from Ile-Ife The Source. The business is structured to allow personalized shopping to grow the retail business which is grossly underdeveloped in Nigeria due to reasons which include proliferation of neighborhood stores and unorganized markets among others.

“While in Johannesburg about 15 years ago on a business visit, I saw so many retail stores, I thereafter realized that as big as Nigeria was and still is, there are only five (5) major malls with no single one in my hometown Ile-Ife that is refined, classy and affordable.

“Like we have names of people branded into companies like this in developed countries, I initiated this project to build the confidence of our younger ones in productive business and investment activities. Youths are the real drivers of economic growth.

“We have started from Ile-Ife because charity begins at home, from here we will cover the entire South West and Nigeria with a chain of over 100 stalls within the next 24 months. It will be first of its kind in Nigeria and the continent of Africa.

“Beyond grooming young minds and serious minded youths in retail business, this initiative will offer over 100,000 direct and indirect employment to our youths across the country, thereby contributing in no small means to human development and capacity building. That’s my target” The Ooni said.

On what Nigerians stand to benefit from patronizing the new outfit, the MD/CEO. of OjajaMore, Mr. Benedict Orioye explained that high-powered technology will be deployed to ensure that customers are treated with respect and royalty as part of value for their money, beyond what is obtainable in similar outfits nationwide.

Orioye said, “Our focus is to have local content as items making up of at least 70 percent of items to be sold here, this is why we are dueling mostly on the farm market. Everything you can think of in the farm will be sold in OjajaMore with decent packaging in line with global standard operating procedure for food handling.

“Aside from fresh and healthy farm produce, the mall will be filled with other retail items as obtainable in other malls around the world but blended with royalty. Our goods are going to be affordably cheap and environment friendly as we have concluded plans to partner the university communities around us to ease the stress of students and other low income earners in shopping.” Orioye said.

In keeping with his unorthodox shift, the Ooni has said OJAJAMORE will be guided by the young people, as they are heroically dedicated to one Nigeria whose greatness and prosperity they are inextricably connected to. As a result, he has intentionally entrusted some of his initiatives and projects to some of Nigeria’s brightest young people. It will be recalled that monarch had on the day of his official coronation in December 2015 dedicated his reign and the throne to the youth. This has consistently seen him engage the youths meaningfully in all his projects and programs both businesses and NGOs.

Apart from Orioye Benedict Gbayisemore, a one time local fisherman from Ilaje Ese Odo area of Ondo state who was appointed MD/CEO of the OjajaMore by the Ooni having discovered him as a well educated and super versatile young man with a Bsc Physics from Obafemi Awolowo University and currently studying for his MSc Business Admin at the University of Ibadan, the super dynamic monarch has also given an array of other brilliant and multi-talented Nigerian youths gainful job opportunities with a lot of them performing creditably well in their various engagements.

Makinde Covenant(DJ Smith) from Ile-Ife, a 3 hundred level student of Dramatic Arts at Obafemi Awolowo University is the one in charge of YAKOYO AFRIKANA an African restaurant which occupies the Gallery section of the OjajaMore established to promote the African heritage using the aspect of our diverse local food and cuisines. There are several other Nigerian youths who have benefited from the Ooni’s G2G platform which he created 4 years ago to drive his Grass-To-Grace aganda for the youths.

A graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Oluwaseun Victor Badejo from Ile-Ife is handling OJAJA PARK, a 25 billion naira model city project in Akure while a 30 year old Kamarudeen Adefajo an indigene of Modakeke-Ife with an HND architecture is the one in charge of OjajaMews, another multibillion housing estate project located at Osogbo in Osun state.

A graduate of Osun State Polytechnic who is fondly called Engineer Fisayo has been made to carry out several successful constructions of the Ooni’s projects like the Ife Grand Resort and Industrial Park, the 3000 seaters multi-purpose event center called OJAJA ARENA, a 2000 bedded hostel facility OJAJA HOSTEL at the Obafemi Awolowo University, the OjajaMore all in Ile-Ife.

Former president of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) Comrade Bello Shagari from Sokoto state is the MD/CEO of Royal African Young Leadership Forum (RAYLF) a platform set up by the Ooni in 2018 for showcasing and celebrating the talented young leaders who are already great but untapped assets for Nigeria. he studied Business Information Systems & Information Technology Middlesex University, London.

Barrister Habeeb Whyte from Abeokuta, a Law graduate of the University of Ilorin is the
MD/CEO Olofin Products Ltd.
an Ooni’s company Packaging everyday agricultural products for sale locally and exports.

One of the Ooni’s Personal Assistants, Tomisin Olawale a graduate of Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada was also recently appointed as Director of Olofin Microfinance Bank, a one-time Ife Community owned bank which has just been succoured by the Ooni for resuscitation. An award winning Inya Sarah Lawal, who coordinates his “Women Owned Micro Businesses” (WOMB).

Others include Olusola Owonikoko, who runs the Royal African Foundation (RAF), Ibidapo Fashina, who runs the Royal African Medical Outreach (RAMO), According to the dynamic king, these young men and women, like millions of others, are a microcosm of his royalty, woven into the fabric of our modernization and industrialization even as history weighs heavily on their shoulders.

While inviting individuals, groups, government and other corporate organizations in Ile-Ife and its environs to join him in the daily patronage of the iconic OjajaMore, the African foremost who doubles as Co-chairman, National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria(NCTRN) monarch admonished government and well meaning Nigerians to always consider the Nigerian youth as the best partners in progress for the economic liberation of the country.

 

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FIRSTBANK HOSTS THE FINANCIAL MARKET DEALERS ASSOCIATION (FMDA) QUARTERLY MEETING

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced that it will host the Financial Markets Dealers Association’s (FMDA) quarterly meeting scheduled for 5pm on Friday, 16 September 2022, at Federal Palace Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos. The event themed “Nigeria Macroeconomic Developments and Outlook: IMF View” will have its keynote address delivered by Ari Aisen, IMF Resident Representative for Nigeria. 

In a statement issued by the Acting Executive Secretary, Mrs. Mary Gbegbaje, “The FMDA quarterly meeting serves as a platform for in-depth knowledge sharing, dissemination of information and fostering of business relationships of members in treasury market practice which consists of Treasurers, Analysts and other market players from insurance, pension funds, government and regulatory bodies in Nigeria. Participants at the event include delegates from all banks and invited guest and customers.”

According to Ini Ebong, Executive Director, Treasury, Financial Institutions & International Banking, First Bank of Nigeria Limited “at FirstBank, we are delighted to host the 2022 quarterly meeting of the Financial Markets Dealers Association of Nigeria (FMDA), a platform we consider pivotal to the continued growth of the financial market in the country. We are excited with the successes so far achieved by our noble Association – FMDA – as with the right regulatory and risk management framework, we have been able to impact and promote fairness in the activities of members, whilst providing the enabling environment to promote business performance and positively impact the national economy’’.

With the knowledge and insights shared in the course of the quarterly meeting, we would further deepen our resolve towards the unrelenting role we play in the economy”, he concluded.

FMDA is the principal interface with the monetary authorities through policy advocacy and engagement aimed at promoting sound markets and ethical conducts comparable to international standards that facilitate liquidity, transparency and price discovery and engendering market deepening.

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