Nigeria recently announced its plan to dabble into another N200 Billion sketchy satellite venture, as its fifth launch since NigeriaSat-1 Was launched in 2003.
An average of N100 Billion had been spent on the launch of the first four, while the fifth one will cost the economically depressive country an average of N200 Billion.
Five satellite have been launched by the Nigerian government into outer space since 2003. At its last launch, the Federal Government through President Goodluck Jonathan had announced that the last satellite which cost the country an average of N40 Billion will save the country about $2 Billion (N720 Billion) Satellite engagement investment and generate a revenue of an estimated $20 billion (N7.2 Trillion) revenue annually.
Built by a United Kingdom-based satellite technology company, Surrey Space Technology Limited (SSTL ltd), Nigeriasat-1 a worldwide Disaster Monitoring Constellation System was the first Nigeria Satellite and was launched on 27 September 2003, under the Nigerian government sponsorship for $30 million.
Early plans to launch a national satellite in 1976 were not executed. Interestingly, none of the satellites have been launched in Nigeria, as all of them were launched from outside launch base.
NigeriaSat-x, Nigeria’s third and fourth satellites, The NigeriaSat-2/X spacecraft were built at a cost of over £35 million. The two satellites were launched into orbit by Ukrainian Dnepr rocket from a Yasny military base in Russia on 17 August 2011.
Past reports have however revealed that the two NigeriaSat-2/X had been de-orbited because they had stayed their normal courses in orbit, while users, including government agencies keep spending Billion to acquire the services from private suppliers.
In an interview with Daily Trust in November 2017, the Director, Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD), Dr Spencer Onuh, said that the agencies of government and private companies that use satellite image and data in their work have all been procuring such images and data from foreign satellites.
“What do you want them to do when there is a failure? Let me tell you, NigComSat 1R is not enough for this country; it is not sufficient. There must be a backup. Many TV stations and even the national TV network will be very careful to transfer their services fully to NigComSat 1R because it is just one. The stations are set up for business, and they would not want anything to disrupt their services,” Dr Onu said.
“Even private companies that own satellites don’t have only one. Some of them have five to six satellites, but mostly communication satellites which spin money. The return on investment is very fast but what happens in most advanced satellite countries is that these things are given out to the private sector to manage; they are not under government management and you can see the results.”
But a NIGCOMSAT official, Abdulraheem Isah Adajah, disagreed. Adajah who is the NIGCOMSAT’s General Manager, Satellite Applications, told Daily Trust that it was not entirely true that Nigcomsat1-R was recording low patronage due to lack of backup.
According to him, inferiority complex and the mentality that ‘if it is Nigerian it can’t be good’ is the main reason.
SEARCH FOR SATELLITE BACKUP
However, after its inability to contribute the agreed 15% of the unknown production cost for the new satellite, Nigeria in a renegotiated deal has finally agreed a $550-million deal to acquire two new Chinese communications satellites, in “an equity participation” policy.
According to the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, Nigeria during his recent visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Satellites will be fully sponsored by the Chinese investors and Nigeria “has nothing to lose because we are not putting anything into it in terms of financial resources,” but quickly add that “they will agree on the percentage for profit sharing,” with the partners.
“It is a very big business opportunity and I am sure that the Chinese appreciate the potential market that is so versed and that is why they agreed in spite of our inability to provide 15 per cent, that they are prepared to bring the entire sum of $550 million for the procurement of the two satellites,” He said.
He also said that the China Exim Bank and the Satellite manufacturer, China Great Wall, have agreed to pay for the new satellites after Nigeria renegotiated an earlier deal that had required it to cover 15% of the cost.
However, China Exim Bank, a fully Import and Export commercial bank with profit target is coming into the project with a target of the “still shadowy” sharing formula that is still not disclosed to the public. Exim Bank is reported to be a major world business financier, lending more money to developing countries than the World Bank, through support for Chinese export and international trades.
Sunti Sugar Coy Suspends Production
Sunti Golden Sugar Estate (SGSE) Limited began with a lofty vision to be the purest representation of Nigeria’s Federal Government’s Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) with an ambitious background integration programme intended to set the Country on the path of self-sufficiency in sugar production.
However, it cannot celebrate its first 100 days of production as it has suspended production.
SGSE, a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC (FMN Group) was conceived to be the conglomerate’s biggest agricultural investment in Nigeria to date. Commissioned on March 15 this year, several challenges have forced it to close shop temporarily.
SATELLITE TIMES correspondent, Emmanuel Hezekiah, reports that the sugar company is bedeviled by challenges, some intractable including lack of sufficient sugarcane from the farms.
There is the dearth of proper drainage system causing deep gully erosion which have uprooted sugarcane plants in the farms.
Besides, the community of Mokwa where the sugar company is sited is unhappy with the manner of the acquisition of their farmland by the Sunti Sugar Company.
They claim that their farmlands were forcibly taken away from them and has refused to allow the sugar company to cultivate on it.
Our correspondent further gathered that the issue of disagreement over the farmland led to bloody communal clashes in Kusogi leading to the death of two men.
A casual worker with the sugar company who did not want his name mentioned said, “We are not well paid and when they pay, the wages do not come as at when due. The company said that we are not permanent staff, that we are casual workers under contract.”
The workers also complained of transportation problems and lack of accommodation close to the site of the sugar company.
Another worker that spoke to SATELLITE TIMES, also pleading anonymity said, “We find it difficult to come to work. The roads are very bad, potholes here and there and the whole surface soil eroded by flood, all this leading to accidents on daily basis. Again, there is no place for us to sleep near our working place making us to come to work through the bad road everyday. We are not comfortable doing the job. Some of us have even stopped coming.”
When contacted for comments, the contractor handling the affairs of the company, whose name was not given was said not to be disposed to speak to any reporter.
However, one of the line supervisors who also would not give his name told our reporter that the overall head, a white man contracted the running of the company to a Nigerian who failed to take the affairs of the company seriously.
“The contractor in charge was instructed to pay workers N2500 per day, instead he paid them N950 to N1,900 depending on his rating of individual workers. The workers were not happy and had to down tools. That is the major problem. Besides, when the erosion menace was brought to his attention, he did not take it serious until the matter became unmanageable,” the supervisor said.
Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC Commissions N50 billion Sunti Golden Sugar Estate in Niger State
Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, (FMN Group) market leader in food and agro-allied products in Nigeria, today announced that its biggest agricultural investment in Nigeria to date – The Sunti Golden Sugar Estate will be commissioned on the 15th of March 2018 by Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Located on the banks of River Niger, in Mokwa, Niger state, the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate is owned by Sunti Golden Sugar Estates (SGSE) Ltd. a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc.
The sugar estate features 17, 000 hectares of irrigable farmland and a Sugar mill that process 4,500 metric tons of sugarcane per day. At full capacity, the estate is expected to produce 1 Million tons of Sugarcane which roughly translates into 100,000 metric tons of sugar yearly.
Enclosed within a 35-kilometer dyke, the production facility area is 15,100 hectares, with a cane area that features a maximum output of 10, 000 hectares. The dyke provides flood protection from the River Niger. Over N1 billion was invested in the state-of-the-art irrigation system that will ensure the efficient cultivation of sugar cane, with infrastructure that includes drain pumps, pump stations, and a power grid.
The estate is the purest representation of the Federal Government’s Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) with an ambitious backward integration program that intends to set Nigeria on the path to self-sufficient sugar production. The farm at peak production will provide direct employment for about 10,000 people yearly, and impact up to 50,000 people indirectly, including 3,000 small-scale out growers who will be cultivating sugarcane to feed the mill.
The estate has brought infrastructure benefits to the surrounding community, with 28 communities in total taking advantage of a new 30-kilometer road, plus expansive road networks that provide a variety of access routes to the homes of the indigenes. Drains, culverts, and flood-protection walls have also been constructed.
The project illustrates the desire to reduce sugar importation, save billions in foreign exchange, boost local capacity, and reduce unemployment by putting thousands of Nigerians to work.
The FMN Group’s mantra, “Feeding the Nation, Everyday,” is at the heart of the company’s strategic decisions on what they produce, how and where factories are set up, the level of care that is put into products, and how they interact with host communities and the wider environment.
The commissioning of the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate on March 15th will be the first step towards a collective dream of agricultural progress for all in Nigeria.
N2.4 billion case against Innoson, Court adjourns case till May 22
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday adjourned until May 22, the alleged falsification of shipping document to clear goods valued at N2.4 billion against Innoson Nig. Ltd.
The Federal Government through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) had filed a four-count charge of forgery against the defendant and four others.
The defendants were Innoson Nig. Ltd, Innocent Chukwuma, Charles Chukwu, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines ‘C’ and Sunny Anajekwu.
They allegedly conspired and committed the offence on Oct. 10, 2013 at Apapa Wharf.
When the case was called up, one of the accused, Maximian Chukwura was present in court.
The court then informed parties of a letter from counsel representing the third to sixth accused, Mr Macharty Ubadugha, requesting for an adjournment on the grounds that he was before an Appellate Court.
The prosecutor, Mr Julius Ajakaye, in response informed the court that he was only served with a notice of pendency of an application for stay of proceedings in the suit.
He told the court that he had not been served with the notice of appeal or any motion for stay of proceedings.
In his immediate reaction, Counsel to Innoson, Mr George Uwechue (SAN), told the court that he would ensure the service of the notice of appeal as well as the motion on the prosecution.
Justice Ayokunle Faji consequently, adjourned the case until May 22, for determination of the pending motion on notice.
In the charge, the prosecution had alleged that the defendant falsified shipping documents, which they deposited with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. as collateral for the sum of N2.4 billion.
The loan facility was alleged to have been granted Innoson Nig. Ltd.
The shipping document was also alleged to have been falsely presented as genuine and with intent to defraud, in order to clear goods worth N2.4 billion.
According to the charge, the offence contravened the provisions of sections 1(2) (c), and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation 2004. (NAN)
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