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. . . Attests To Its Good Standing, Resilience

Fitch Ratings, an Internationally renowned rating agency, in its recent publication outlining the standing of the State has upgraded Lagos State ratings from AA+ (nga) to AAA(nga) for its good standing in terms of its debt sustainability, and resilience.

Communicating the development to the Honourable Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Rabiu Olowo, FitchRatings said the feat was published in the Y2020/2021 rating report, noting that the upgrade of the National Long-Term rating reflects Lagos State’s strength compared with national peers as well as its resilient operating performance during the Pandemic.

The congratulatory message signed by the Senior Director, Head Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Andrew Parkinson, said: “I just wanted to say congratulations on the upgrade to AAA (nga). This is a fantastic achievement and an endorsement of all the good work going on in your department.”

He stated that the current rating underpins the State’s capacity to service its financial obligations owing to its stronger operating performance driven by IGR, which makes Lagos an outliner in the national context.

“The assessment reflects Fitch’s view of risk relative to international peers with the ability to recover debt service with the operating balance”, he said.

According to Fitch, Lagos benefits from a solid revenue structure driven by IGR, which represents 70% of its N620B operating revenue at the end of Y2020.

The company maintained that the State has embarked on a number of finance cost savings initiatives over the years, through restructuring of local borrowings to reduce overall debt service obligations, pointing out that in November 2020, Lagos fully retired its N87.5Bn Bond and also conducted an early redemption of its Programme 3 Series II (tranches I &III) as well as series 1 Bond in February 2021 and June 2021 respectively.

Recall that the State opted to call the Bonds in order to take advantage of low yield environment (general low-interest rate) in the Money and Debt market while making significant savings in the overall cost of debt service. It has started the process of new Bond Issuance at a lower coupon to replace the recalled Bond and is poised to effectively increase its financial performance each year.

Lagos State’s reputation as a responsible Issuer and player in the Nigerian Capital Market is not in doubt and this can be testified in its Ratings Nationally and Internationally.

Furthermore, the State Government has successfully restructured all existing loan facilities and brought about a reduction in interest rates from an average of 18% to 12%., and delivered huge savings on the State’s debt servicing cost thereby easing cash flow.

As further testimony to the credibility of Lagos State, the N100Bn Bond that was issued in January 2020 was listed early this year on the FMDQ Exchange, NG Exchange. This has also given greater visibility to the State, ensured transparency as well as increased the Bond Holders confidence.

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Politics

Obidike visits Tinubu, says he’s playing a pivotal role in youth constituency

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Following the return of the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, from the UK, the Director General – Conference of APC Support Groups and member of the Party’s National Strategic Lobby Committee, Hon. Obidike Chukwuebuka, has paid a private visit to him in his Abuja residence, to welcome him back to the country.

Speaking to the journalists  after the closed door meeting with Tinubu, Hon. Obidike said: “Asiwaju is a father to me and to all other youths in the APC and Nigeria, he has continued to play a pivotal role in the youth constituency through his impactful human capacity development which is the best gift of life. So as his son, and upon his return to Nigeria, I said I will come and welcome my father today and equally brief him of certain things we have been able to achieve while he was out of the country.

“I am happy to see him, hail and hearty, and it’s my prayer that the good Lord continues bless and keep him in good health and protection.

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NATION BUILDING: SANWO-OLU, AKEREDOLU, AISHA BUHARI HARP ON ROLE OF WOMEN

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…Women Participation in Politics Must Go Beyond Singing at Rallies, Says Ondo Gov
… As 21st COWLSO National Women’s Conference Begins

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his counterpart from Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu and Nigeria’s First Lady, Dr. (Mrs.) Aisha Buhari, on Tuesday, harped on the role of women in national development, saying women must be accorded their rightful recognition in the scheme of affairs.

They all spoke at the opening ceremony of the 21st Annual National Women’s Conference of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) with the theme: “Awake”, held at the Convention Centre, Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Sanwo-Olu acknowledged the fact that men can do virtually nothing without women, noting that it is important for women to be awake and alive to their responsibilities, especially the emerging realities of the 21st century.

According to him, “There is nothing we men can do without women beside us. And so the charge before us today is to look at the changes and the emerging realities of our time. I believe the word ‘Awake’ is appropriate and it is meant for our women to be a lot more resilient; to be aware of the environment; to have a new approach to doing things; to ensure that you have a sustainable mindset at everything you find yourselves doing as individuals, as organisations, as corporate entities and so on.

“I think it is important for us to know that all of you, working collaboratively as partners with the government, we can achieve a lot together working in unity”, he noted.

The Governor said, since inception, the policy direction of his administration had focused on empowering women, just as he paid a glowing tribute to the contributions of women towards the actualisation of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda.

His words: “In our Agenda, all of the processes and the programmes we have, in one form or the other, are targeted at ensuring that we can put our women in the drivers’ seat. If you talk about health, education, infrastructure and so on, the strongest engineers that are leading our infrastructure in Lagos are all women.

“For us as government, we have actually awakened; we have said to ourselves that we need women to take their rightful position and it is not just by mouth that they said our government is “HeForShe” because you can see our cabinet members; they are the reasons for all of the great things that we are doing. We believe that when we have women leading the conversations, we will achieve a lot more. So, you can take it to the bank that our administration will ensure that women take the rightful leadership positions and that you are an integral part of our Greater Lagos agenda”, Sanwo-Olu said.

The Governor appreciated COWLSO for the various humanitarian initiatives in critical sectors, especially the donation of 5000 transistor radios to support continuous learning by students during the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19, as well as various interventions in health, sexual and gender-based violence, among others.

On his part, Akeredolu, who was the special guest of honour, said history was replete with heroic acts of women, and that no reasonable society would confine women to the background, informing that it is no longer acceptable for women’s participation in politics to be limited to singing at rallies.

“There is a need for women to start taking the issue of participating in politics seriously. Your role cannot be just jamboree and singing at political rallies. We must train the girl child in a way that she has a role to play in the future”, Akeredolu said.

Also, Nigeria’s First Lady, who was represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Women Affairs and Administration, Dr. Rukayyatu Gurin, commended the initiative of COWLSO and called on other first ladies across the country to embrace it, with a view to empowering women and girls.

In her opening remarks, COWLSO Chairman and Lagos State First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, paid glowing tributes to the founding mothers of COWLSO, particularly the late Dame Obafunmilayo Johnson, wife of the first Military Governor of the State, who founded the Committee in 1974 and Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who initiated the National Women’s Conference in the year 2000 during the tenure of her husband, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Governor of the State, as well as her predecessors.

She said aside from the theme, other sub-topics would be thoroughly examined in the next two days, adding, “This conference will not just be a talk shop. At the end of the conference, we shall issue a Communiqué that will appropriately articulate the deliberations at this conference, and proffer insightful recommendations that will result in actionable initiatives. It is hoped that this will translate to significant improvement in the way participants address the highlighted topics, going forward”.

The event was attended by dignitaries including the Wife of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hajia Salamutu Gbajabiamila; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Governors’ Wives from Ogun, Ekiti, Kwara, Osun, Ondo and Kebbi, among others.

Special inspirational women awards were also presented to Nigeria’s first female Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs. Muheeba Wonuola Folami; first female Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State and first female Vice Chairman of Transcorp Plc, Mrs. Foluke Abdul-Rasaq; the Iyalode of Lagos, Chief (Mrs.) Bintu Fatima Tinubu and Super Falcons captain, Asisat Oshoala, who was honoured as inspirational youth of the year.

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