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Tech investor, Victor Asemota, debunks Tinubu’s claim of bringing ECONET to Nigeria



Speaking at the just concluded screening of presidential aspirants of the All Progressive Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and party founder, claims to have played a role in building the telecoms industry in Nigeria by bringing Econet Wireless (now Airtel) to Nigeria.

However, tech investor, Victor Asemota has moved to debunk Tinubu’s claim, stating that Lagos State was only involved in its founding through the acquisition of secondary shares after much deliberations had taken place.

According to Asemota Tinubu didn’t even commit to Cybertel (Econet’s founding trading name in Nigeria) initially. until after Delta State, Oceanic and David Edevbie did the major work.

Highlighting his contribution to the development of the telecoms industry, Bola Ahmed Tinubu said “There are three highways in the development of a nation. If you have gas or supplying diesel, electricity transmission is also a highway and communication.


“I could remember that I brought Eron to this nation. Telecommunication is now a success today in Nigeria. I brought Econet. I helped them; they now want to adopt 5G; we started it. 

“Nigeria is rich. The essence of our livelihood must be placed on short-term and medium-term values. They must produce values for us,”

Disagreeing with Tinubu’s claim, Victor Asemota, who also worked at Econet during its early days gave his account of how Econet Wireless came into Nigeria.

He said, “My uncle held a party for Tony Anenih Jr. after his wedding in 2000 in Benin City.

“Many of the new state governors were in town and came for the party. He got five of them into his bedroom and pitched a company called ‘CyberTel’, which was supposed to bid for a GSM license 

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“Only Delta State was very keen on it. The others told us that they would get back. Cybertel merged into the consortium called First Independent Networks Limited, which was started by Bolaji Balogun and his team at City Securities Limited. It was a harrowing period”.

He added that he had to travel to Delta and Akwa Ibom to ensure the commitment of the state as FINL was supposed to hold 60% of the license holding company, and 40% went to the foreign partner.

We later selected a small company from Zimbabwe called Econet because we felt it was easier,” he said.



He also revealed that “Econet was supposed to bring 40% of the license money and the technical know-how. We had the equity agreement as a shareholder, and technical services agreement as operator of the license. That 40% never came. It was excuse after excuse. We finally had to go back to the states. 

“The initial structure we had proposed was for the licensed entity, Econet Wireless Nigeria (EWN) owned by FINL and the technical partner to own 60% of the operating entity Econet Wireless Mobile (EWM) and the remaining 40% coming into that entity from states like Delta and AKSG.”

Asemota revealed that when the 40% from the operator wasn’t coming and other shareholders were leveraged to the hilt, state governments were allowed in to buy secondaries from existing shareholders who had covered the initial $285m license fee they didn’t bargain for, which caused the Shareholders approached states.



He said OANDO was also a shareholder, stating that Wale Tinubu (Oando founder) got Lagos State to buy their secondaries and come in. “That was the extent of the Lagos State involvement in the deal. His relative was the state governor, and it made it easier for OANDO to convince them. Tinubu didn’t even commit to Cybertel initially. Delta State and Oceanic saved ECONET. David Edevbie saved us all,” he said.


UNGA 78: Tinubu harps on sustainable environment for investment in Africa



President Bola Tinubu has emphasised the importance of creating sustainable environment for investment opportunities in Agriculture to strive in Africa to achieve food security in the continent.

Tinubu said this at the High Level Meeting on “Attracting investments in Land Restoration, Food Systems, and Rural Transformation in Africa”.

It was organised by the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) Nigeria on sidelines of the 78th session of UN General Assembly in New York.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was organised by AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria Secretariat in collaboration with its counterpart AUDA-NEPAD Continental.


The event was aimed at exploring innovation solutions, investment opportunities, and partnerships to enhance productivity, resilience, and sustainable in African agriculture, focusing on smallholder farmers.

Tinubu, who was represented by Sen. Abdulaziz Yar’dua, Chairman, Senate Committee on Nigerian Army, stressed the need for smallholders’ farmers in Nigeria and the continent at large to access financing to boost farming.

Tinubu also lamented the impact of poor governance and insecurity on agriculture in the continent.

“In Africa today one of the biggest factors inhibiting agricultural practices is the issue of poor governance by our fellow states, which has taken its toll on so many developments in Africa.

“It’s important to highlight this point because most of the inhibiting factors I believe are manifestation of this poor governance.


“And this has led to conflicts and political instability in most of the Africa or some of the African countries.

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“These regions that are affected by these conflicts and political instability, of course, cannot be said to be able to have any agricultural activities, because this will disrupt it and it will lead to food insecurity,’’ he said.

According to him, the other critical factor is the issue of climate change, noting that Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change, as it brings unpredictable weather patterns, prolonged droughts and flooding.

“Other factors are land degradation, limited access to financing. If we look at some of the African countries, a case of Nigeria, the small rural farmers and farming communities in the rural areas do not have access to financing.

“We have 774 local government areas in Nigeria and I think just a little over 300 of the local governments which you call counties here have bank branches.


“So even the financial institutions in Nigeria are not able to cover all the local government areas we have.

“So is quite difficult for the rural farmer who will have to travel sometimes one to 200 kilometers to be able to access finance. So, this is a very big problem.’’

The Nigerian leader, however, expressed optimistic that the gathering would create opportunity to brainstorm on ways to help rural communities and farmers to get access to finance.

Another big issue, he said, was the issue of infrastructure gaps, noting that some of the rural farmers do not have good access roads to evacuate their produce to the markets.

“And technology of course is another factor. There is a need to have technology adoption which is limited in nature in most of the rural communities.

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“Then we have the issue of policy and regulation by government. You have inconsistencies in policies and some of the African countries as it affects, land tenure, land reformation, agriculture itself.

“We also have the issue of cumbersome regulatory processes, which can also include international finance institutions to come in and assist in agricultural production in most of the African countries.’’

Tinubu, however, said that those challenges could degrade and reduce agricultural practices, especially in most African countries and urged the participants to step up efforts to address them.

Similarly, Chief Executive Officer AUDA-NEPAD, Ms Nardos Bekele-Thomas spoke on addressing some the challenges by coordinating all the available resources in the continent.

According to her, coordination is critical and all the countries in Africa should work together, adding that working together will make a difference while fragmented effort will not help.


In addition, Bekele-Thomas said it was important to expand the economy through agriculture and remove restrictions to assessing financing for smallholder farmers.

“We need to put as many stakeholders in the economy, which means that we have to set the women and we have to empower them to be part of the transformation that takes place.

“All these requires a judicious mix of inputs, ingredients that will go into each and thus, it’s not restoration. We need the resources; we need the human capital, we need the training, we need the capacity.

“We need institutions to get the same thing with food security, in terms of agricultural productivity and production.

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“We need to put these ingredients and also the core value supply chain is critically important because we’re talking about the food systems.


“All these require whole collaborative efforts and everybody should be working toward to achieve that,’’ she said.

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Tension in Cross River as governorship petition tribunal delivers judgment Tuesday



The Tribunal has reserved judgment in a Suit No. EPT/CR/GOV/02/2023
seeking to oust the Governor of Cross River State, Bassey Otu, after adoption of counsels written addresses on August 14, 2023.

The suit was jointly instituted by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship standard bearer, Prof. Sandy Onor, and his party against the election of Senator Bassey Otu and the Deputy Governor, Rt Hon. Peter Odey of All Progressives Congress (APC).

Barely six weeks after the adoption, the Secretary of the tribunal, Mr Akawu Bambu, issued a statement in Calabar at the weekend that the panel would deliver judgment on Tuesday, September 26.

In the final written address, counsel to the petitioners, Dr. J. Y. Musa, SAN, had told the court that evidences extracted under cross-examination of the respondents goes to fortify the case of their petition and also confirm the falsity of the evidence presented by the second and third respondents (Governor Otu and Peter Odey).


Musa said the case of the petitioners is not allegations of forgery against any of the respondents (Otu and Odey) and so all the authorities they cited to the effect that they needed to call witnesses from institutions are non-sequitor, rather their case is that the second and third respondents lied on oath.

He insisted that the second and third respondents (Otu and Odey) brought documents to show that they forged documents.

“In the process of trying to say they did not lie on oath, they opened a Pandora box where we saw the discrepancies.

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“I, therefore, urge the tribunal to declare the votes of the second and third respondents wasted because they were not qualified to stand for the election and declare the petitioners winner of the elections,” he stated.

On his part, the lead counsel to the second and third respondents, Prof. Mike Ozekhone, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the petition “for being frivolous, un-meritorious, gold-digging, distracting and for constituting an abuse of the court process.”


He added that “withdrawal of grounds two and three by the petitioners sounded a death kernel to their own petition because it was an admission that the elections were validly held.”

On his part, counsel to the first respondents (INEC), K. O. Balogun, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition and also adopted Professor Ozekhome’s submission in respect of the qualification of the second and third respondent.

However, a few hours away to judgment day, fear has gripped both All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) stalwarts and supporters across the state over the outcome of the case.

While both die-hard supporters are optimistic that their party would come out victorious, some are worried at the inconsistencies that are coming out of the Tribunals across the country, fueling speculations that judgment may go either way depending on the ability of counsels to prove their cases before the Court.

An APC chieftain, Chief Asuquo Ededem, from Calabar South, said:”I expect nothing but victory for Governor Bassey Otu and our party. We are very optimistic that the Court would re-affirm Otu’s mandate given to him by Cross Riverians.

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“By tomorrow, I am certain we shall click glasses and merry because we worked hard for Otu and Odey’s emergence at polls.”

On his part, a former member of PDP Campaign Council in the state, Ntufam Emmanuel Ojong, from Ikom, said: “Tomorrow is a day for the party to reclaim its mandate from APC. And anybody who had followed the Tribunal from the beginning would know that our party have a good case.

“Our lawyers put up a good argument and backed it up with documents and witnesses to prove our case beyond doubt. So, we expect victory at the Court and it is only then that justice would have been done to our case.”

But a legal practitioner, who spoke off record, said Court cases of this nature are very dicey because most times the judges deal with technicalities and other legal matters that are beyond mere elections, calling on all parties to call their supporters to order to ensure peaceful co-existent during and after the Tribunal.

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FG to partner with NITP for sustainable urban development – Musa Dangiwa



Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa has announced the Federal Government’s plan to enhance cooperation with the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) to advance efforts aimed at achieving a more sustainable housing and urban landscape.

The minister made this commitment during a meeting with the leadership of the institute on Thursday at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

Arc. Dangiwa emphasized the significance of effective urban and regional planning, highlighting that the institute’s contributions and the expertise of its members would play a pivotal role in the ministry’s endeavours to construct livable, respectable, and sustainable cities and communities.

He stated,


“As you are all aware, our great nation is at a critical juncture in its history. With a rapidly growing population and urbanization trends, the challenges facing our cities and towns have become more complex and demanding. It is evident that proper urban planning and housing development are key to addressing these challenges effectively.”

He further underscored the institute’s vital role in shaping the physical, social, and economic development of cities and communities, emphasizing the importance of expertise in spatial planning, environmental management, and infrastructure development to ensure well-structured urban areas that meet the needs of citizens.

NITP’s advocacy for policy reforms and capacity-building initiatives

NITP’s delegation, led by its president, Town Planner Nathaniel Atebije, highlighted the challenges faced by the institute and the sector as a whole.

They called on the Minister to support specific requests, including expediting the completion of the Revised National Urban Development Policy and National Physical Planning Standards.

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They also urged the implementation of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Law to guide physical development and the establishment of relevant institutions such as the National Urban and Regional Planning Commission.

Atebije further noted that

“Presenting an executive bill to amend areas of the law that do not have sufficient provisions for effective enforcement to make the law more contemporary, particularly with the possibility of putting physical planning matters on the concurrent list in the constitution, is an important step to take.” He urged the Ministry to prioritize comprehensive capacity building for professionals to enhance their performance.

One of the institute’s requests is the establishment of an agency responsible for gathering and analyzing housing data to access both quantity and quality, facilitating effective planning and implementation of housing policies.



Minister’s reassurances and Collaborative efforts on Urban Planning Challenges

In response, the Minister assured the delegation that many issues related to the legal and regulatory frameworks of urban and physical planning, raised by the institute, were already under examination by relevant departments and partner agencies.

He stated,

“For instance, we’re already working with the National Population Commission to conduct a housing census to determine the quality and quantity of houses in Nigeria so that we can ascertain the true situation. We do not believe there’s a need to create another agency for that purpose, as it would further increase the cost of governance, which this administration is trying to reduce. Besides, that would amount to duplication of responsibilities.”
“On the issue of placing the law in the concurrent list, we’re already working with the states to make that a reality. However, it also depends on the cooperation of the National Assembly, which we’re confident we will receive. I can assure you that the other issues you raised, including those related to the implementation of the Urban and Regional Planning law, undue tenure elongation of your council members, and the recruitment and training of professionals, are matters we are taking seriously as a ministry, and they will be resolved in due time.”

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