NUFBTE Seeks Improved Standards in Locally Made Goods

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Ugo Aliogo
The National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) has charged the federal government to upgrade the standard of locally produced food and beverages, in the country.

The union made the call in Lagos, at its National Executive Council (NEC), recently. The union in a resolution jointly signed by the President, Lateef Oyelekan and General Secretary, Bamidele Busari, said government must prevail upon bodies saddled with the responsibility of monitoring and controlling standards in the country, “such as Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), NAFDAC and others to gear up towards ensuring the upgrading of the standard of locally produced items and imported goods in accordance with International acceptable standards.”

The union which commended the continuous closure of land borders across the country, noted that the country has the capacity to produce food, beverages, wines and other items locally without importation.
Oyelekan lamented that Nigeria had become a dumping ground for foreign products, but that can be discouraged through upgrading of standards and proper monitoring of the country’s border.

He affirmed the commitment of members of the union to continue supporting the land borders closure across the country, stating that it has tremendously curbed, “the activities of cross borders smugglers specialising in smuggling of beverages, wine, spirit, rice, petroleum products arms and ammunition.”

He further explained that government’s policy on backward integration has started yielding positive efforts in the sector as Nigeria can now boast of companies producing tomato paste using 100 percent locally sourced raw materials.
Oyelekan added: “As we have often said, Nigeria has no reason to import finished food products as our companies have the capacity to support the local needs. The tomato factory in Adamawa presently provides jobs for over 3000 workers. That is the advantage of supporting local production.”

The union, however, said it was dissatisfied with the insecurity challenge facing the country, despite huge human and financial resources reported to have been deployed by the government in tackling the menace.

“The NEC in-session therefore implore the federal government to holistically review and change their strategies in tackling the prevalent scourge of hydra headed insecurity monster across the country,” the President stated.

Similarly, the union urged federal government to redouble efforts in ensuring stable electric power supply across the country, stating that this would attract employment opportunities for citizens.
The persistent influx of expatriates into the country despite the promulgation of the executive order “5” by government was also considered as a minus to the efforts of government, thereby calling for strict monitoring to ensure total adherence for the order.

Earlier in his remarks, the General Secretary of the National Union of Hotel and Personal Service Workers (NUHPSW), Leke Success, charged members of the union on the need to promote unity to consolidate the achievements of the union.
According to him, the recent developments in the union within the last few months were a needless distraction, which can destroy what the union has built in the last few years.

“I want to appeal to all of you to always embrace internal dispute resolution mechanism before resorting to external bodies this is because nobody from outside can be able to help you organise your union or move it forward,” he stated.

FCMB Empowers Female Entrepreneurs

Over 2,000 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) have so far benefitted from the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) empowerment initiative for women-owned businesses, known as SheVentures, since it was launched in March 2019.
The benefits of the initiative cut across mentoring, capacity building and zero interest loans, ranging from N500,000.00 to N5,000,000.00.

The FCMB SheVentures, with a unique feature of zero-interest rate for a period of three months, is anchored on supporting women with vision. It connotes confidence, independence and the courage required by women to fulfil their aspirations. SheVentures is designed to engage, inspire and equip potential and existing women entrepreneurs to take bold steps that would enable them become much more competitive, productive and profitable thereby contributing significantly to national development.

Speaking at an event held in Lagos, recently, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of FCMB SheVentures, the Group Chief Executive of FCMB Group Plc, Mr. Ladi Balogun, described the initiative as a game changer in the quest of the lender to upscale the performance of SMEs.

The event, which formed part of activities of FCMB to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day, was graced by the First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun; Managing Director, Rose of Sharon Group and Executive Vice Chairman, Famfa Oil, Dr. (Mrs.) Folorunsho Alakija (who was the Guest Speaker), a former Deputy Governor of Lagos, Mrs. Sarah Sosan, other top personalities from various walks of life and several entrepreneurs.

A statement quoted Balogun to have added: “We are a focused bank with big ambitions. Many of the big companies we know today that FCMB has had the privilege of supporting in one way or the other started off as small companies with big aspirations and many of them have gone on to become household names in oil and gas, technology, food and beverage as well as other sectors.

“Our SheVentures initiative was created for the sole purpose of ensuring that women-owned businesses are not left out in the development of the country’s economy through their collective and individual contributions as business owners. All around the world, there has been a great paradigm shift geared towards women taking on and excelling in businesses that have previously been assumed to be gender specific.”

The FCMB Group Chief Executive further stated that, “as shown in our ranking as the number one in SME Banking in Nigeria by KPMG, we are not just focused on the basic banking procedures when it comes to our customers, but also fully committed to delivering services and offerings that ensure that they derive good returns from their relationship with us.

“We are excited to note that with FCMB SheVentures, we have expanded the frontiers of support to businesses in a manner that is ushering them into prosperity. FCMB is pleased to play a leading role in the quest to bring socio-economic transformation to Nigeria’’.

In her presentation, the Guest Speaker and Africa’s richest woman, Mrs. Folorunso Alakija, commended women entrepreneurs for their resilience.
According to her, ‘’I have heard so many amazing things about the FCMB SheVentures and how it has been turning around the fortunes of female entrepreneurs. It is gratifying that women have continued to break barriers in the business and corporate world, despite the challenges.

Nigeria has the highest number of women business owners in the world, but only 2% have access to capital. Irrespective of this situation, women need to collaborate with one another. We must be ready to share information and assist each other. When women support each other, incredible things happen’’.

In her keynote address, the First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun, urged female entrepreneurs to brace up to the challenges of the socio-economic realities, adding that with continuous enlightenment and empowerment by the private and public sectors, women advancement in all spheres would be rapid. She advised the beneficiaries of the FCMB SheVentures initiative to consider it as an avenue for sustainable economic empowerment.