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DISCOS and the Case for an Encore for Fashola

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Power

By Segun Odunuyi

Way back in the 60’s and 70’s in Lagos, Discos – short for Discotheques- were the places to be on Friday nights when the weekend spell of fun and entertainment took off  in earnest. At the Disco parties and clubs, you really let off steam, gyrating wildly to the heavy bass and percussive beats of recorded pop music.

Fast forward to here and now in Lagos. The word “Discos”, to the average Lagos resident, now evokes anything but fun. Rather, it evokes the terrifying image of the bogeyman from the Power Distribution Companies (DisCos), who arrives at your homes monthly with his package of “double jeopardy” in the forms of electricity bills for energy you have most probably not used – called estimated billing – and an unending reluctance or incapacity to provide you with meters -or “pre-paid meters” in popular parlance- which, at least, enables consumers to pay for the quantum of energy consumed.

Clearly, drawing from the drift of the national conversation on the performance of the power sector, the Discos have been and remain the weakest link in the power value chain. In a recent interview, Usman Mohammed, the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) declared that “we cannot have a stable grid (electricity) unless we have an adequate investment on the distribution side and that is why TCN has been calling on the Discos to be recapitalized.” The TCN, like the Discos, is a creation of the unbundling of the former Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in 2011 under the 2005 Electric Sector Power Reform Act, which privatized the nation’s power assets.

When he emerged on the power scene in November 2015 as the Minister of the three-in-one Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, which constituted about 80 percent of the basic physical infrastructure on which hopes for the revival of the then comatose economy rested, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola was still basking in the public adulation of his exceptional performance as Executive Governor of Lagos State. His appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari to oversee such a “super-portfolio” elicited vehement protests from some quarters but Mr President knew that he had hit on the man to oversee the revival of physical infrastructure to drive the resuscitation of the economy..

From the 2005 Act and the subsequent unbundling also emerged entities like the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the all-powerful regulator and licensor, and the Power Generation Companies (Gencos) who buys gas from the gas companies to produce power and sells to the Discos who rely on the TCN to get the power to their substations and distribute to homes and factories in their allocated distribution areas.

The “sin” of the Discos, then and now, is that they have never been able to fully evacuate the power load generated by the Gencos. The result is that there is a perpetual gap between power demand and supply and hence the power outages. The irony is that, contrary to popular impression in the media and among energy consumers, Fashola does not supervise the Discos. They were not licensed by his ministry but by the NERC which does not report to the Minister. So, Fashola, cannot, for example, withdraw the licence of a non-performing Disco or alter the terms or scope of operations of such licensee. That apparent absurdity in supervision was a product of privatization. Still, the minister had to navigate his way around such limitations and others to deliver on his agenda for profound and enduring change in the sector.

And, going by the incredible strides and achievements he has demonstrably notched up in just there and a half years to fast-track infrastructural development in Nigeria, Fashola’s performance has been top-drawer. But as he has stated often, the journey he had patriotically and passionately embarked upon was a “marathon and not a sprint”. Clearly, there is still a lot to do and accomplish if the Buhari government must equal or even surpass the spirited and enduring physical infrastructure development feats of the General Yakubu Gowon regime in the late 60s and 70s. Fashola undoubtedly deserves an encore on the second term Cabinet of the Buhari Administration, to reach a greater distance in the “marathon” especially in the power and works sectors.

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It had not been easy, though, for the man once dubbed “the Actualizer” when he was at the helm of affairs in Lagos State. Indeed, Fashola must have been jolted by what he inherited in the power, works and housing sectors: structural rigidities, convoluted supervisory arrangements and crippling underfunding amidst huge liabilities to contractors, amongst the many unenviable legacies of the long and mindless neglect of the country’s primary and secondary infrastructures. But he also had a free hand from Mr President as well as his own his vision and rare capacity to understand, dissect and proffer solutions to knotty issues; his legendary fervor for long and hard work and, of course, a number of able lieutenants. He was not about to fail on his set deliverables.

Take the power sector. Fashola knew he had to, literarily, “crack the DNA” of the seemingly intractable power sector, which is the livewire of industry, by introducing fresh ideas. He did not take long to arrive at his  eureka moment, and he set out to deliver to the following goals: increasing power generation from the 4,000 MW the administration met at inception, to a peak of 7,000 mw, in order to achieve “Incremental Power” -as the first visible and practical results of new initiatives; ending  the mind-budgetary under-provisioning in order to get abandoned projects back on track and to execute new power projects , and improved interface with power stakeholders and consumers to secure the critical buy-in for the ministry’s road map . After three and half years in office, Fashola and his ministry have delivered satisfactorily on all these power sector goals.

Under Fashola’s watch, the initiatives which have driven the “Incremental Power” phase of his ministry’s road map include the promotion of off-grid connections and licensing of private Meter Asset Providers (MAP). The result is that, nine universities in the country will have 24-hour supply by the end of the year while major markets across the country, including Ariaria, Sabon Gari, Sura, Iponri and a couple of others in Ondo and Ibadan now have reliable power supply from the off-grid model. Twelve private meter providers have also been licensed to roll out from May 1, 2019 nationwide in a move that will help assuage vociferous and unending consumer protests against the present regime of estimated billing by the Discos.

Budgetary allocations from 2015 till date have also reflected the administration’s success in breaking from the mold of the past, when promises to bridge the nation’s gaping infrastructure deficits were mere political statements totally unmatched by financial provisions and commitments. In 2015 the total budget for the Power ministry was a N9.06 billion with about 50 percent or N4.47 billion earmarked for salaries and other recurrent expenses, leaving a paltry N5.13 billion left for capital expenditure. That sum could barely fund 22 out of the 142 outstanding transmission projects valued at N40 billion which Fashola met on ground.

Such budget under-provisioning was, indeed, the fate of the ministries saddled with infrastructure development, a recipe for abandoned projects and worsening of the infrastructure deficit. The Muhammadu Buhari administration halted the trend. From its very first budget in 2016, the government raised the pathetic N93.66 billion for Power, Works, Aviation, Transport and the Federal Capital Territory in 2015 to a healthy N433.4 billion the next year for Fashola’s Works Power and Housing ministry alone. Indeed, by 2018, the government, even in the face of other pressing obligations and dwindling earnings, had spent a whopping N2.7 trillion on infrastructure in three years, an unprecedented record.

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And, unlike the past when the nation has had little to show for the billions of naira expended on infrastructure, demonstrable and visible results have emerged under Fasola’s watch. Yes, power outages still subsist, no thanks to the Discos who lack the capacity to evacuate power load generated by the Gencos.  The difference now, however, is that today with Fashola’s “Incremental Power”, the consumer knows he does not need to wait endlessly for power to be restored. Now, unless there is a major transmission fault in his locality, power is back soon for the consumer’s use after an outage. So, consumers now run generators for shorter periods and spend less money on fuel to power their generators. This is a far cry from the situation up till 2015. Under Fashola’s watch, power generation has increased from 4,000 MW to 7,000 MW and distribution from 2690 MW to 5222 MW as at November 2018.

Meanwhile Fashola has initiated and led a bold effort to help out the problematic Discos by proposing and securing a N72 billion funding from the federal government, which owns 40 percent states in the Discos, for the distribution companies to invest in their equipment and operations in order to evacuate excess power. With this, the gains from the “Incremental Power” phase of  the ministry’s road map  will improve significantly since power outages should be fewer.

On the works front, Fashola got contractors back on site at hundreds of abandoned road projects. Indeed, by the beginning of 2017, work was going on simultaneously on at least two roads in each of the 36 states of the federation.  The roads, including the seemingly jinxed Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, were mainly strategic arterial roads connecting states and major cities, with significant socio-economic benefits in the nation’s six geo-political zones. Construction and rehabilitation of roads involving 565 contracts are currently on-going across the nation under Fashola’s watch.

The minister’s strategy on housing growth strategy was hinged on the pilot of a National Housing Programme in 34 of the 36 states and FCT that had provided land for the scheme. Ongoing construction of different models of houses across the nation with at least 1,000 people – artisans, vendors, craftsmen and suppliers – engaged in each of the sites. Characteristically, Fashola has also sought the buy-in of the private sector by creating a better enabling environment for their participation in housing construction and development. Equity contributions for prospective home owners seeking mortgage loans from the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) have been slashed drastically to provide easier access to housing. The institutions, which are parastatals under Fashola’s ministry now require zero percent (from 5 percent) contribution from those seeking mortgage loans up to N5 million and 10 percent (down from 15 percent) from those who want loans of over N5 million.

Even with the prodigious achievements he has notched up  in the first term of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Mr Babatunde Fashola , the Honourable  Minister of Power, Works and Housing, still has quite some distance to cover to reach the finish line of the “marathon“ which his ministry’s infrastructure road map has been. An encore for him on the next Federal Cabinet is what the nation deserves. Never mind the Discos.

Segun Odunuyi is a Lagos-based public commentator

 

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ECOBA Lagos Present Prizes and Awards to deserving Students of Edo College

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The Lagos branch of Edo College old boys Association, ECOBA has presented nineteen prizes and awards to deserving students and teachers of Edo College, Benin City at the 2019 graduation and prize-giving ceremony of the institution.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony for one hundred and forty-three students, the chairman of the occasion, Mr. Isaac Ehiozuwa, Edo state Head of Service commended the staff of the school for maintaining the excellent standard of the school.

According to the Head of Service, who was represented by Mr. Edwin Oaikhena Edionweme, a director of administration and supplies, a lot has been done by the school authorities, but a lot still needs to be done.

He advised the staff to continue to ensure that the right discipline is inculcated in the students which would bring joy to every parent.

“We are all aware of the steps the Edo state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has been taking in the education sector. It is therefore good to key into the mission and vision of this administration,” he added.

The National President of ECOBA, Dr. Reuben Osahon who thanked the old boys of the school for their numerous contributions to the development of their Alma-Mata enjoined the new graduands to find the nearest branch wherever they find themselves and join the association.

“The law states that after two years of graduation from the school without being expelled you are qualified. If you have benefited from the institution, it is your responsibility to contribute your quota to the development of the school that is 82 years old,” he noted.

During the presentation of prizes and awards from the Lagos branch, the ECOBA National President gave the best mathematics SS3 student award to Efosa Illoware Eghenayamose, sponsored by Senator David Dafinone Foundation; The best English Language SS3 award sponsored by Mr. Sunday Airrue Uaboi to Odiase O. Micheal; the best SS3 Economics award sponsored by Senator David Dafinone Foundation to Elaigwu Augustine Ugbede-Ojo; The best Accounts SS3 award sponsored by Senator David Dafinone Foundation to Izekor Jefferson and the best SS3 Physics award sponsored by Engr Edward E. Iyamu to Emina Attah Emeka.

The Benin branch chairman. Barrister Peter Oibor made the presentation to the best Fine Arts SS3 award sponsored by Micheal I. Omo Osagie to Elaigwu Augustine Ugbede-Ojo; the best Agric Science SS3 award sponsored by Osazenaye Osarenkhoe to Ofuase Kikachukwu Oluwatimilehin; the best Biology SS3 award sponsored by Mrs. Hilda Gregory (AKA Edede Edo College) to Oghagbon Osasenaga; the best Geography SS3 award sponsored by Omaha Endowment Fund to Ikilo Eghosasere Evidence and the best sport person SS3 award sponsored by Uyi Akpata to Isreal Edosomwan.

Other awards presented by the ECOBA Benin branch Chairman were the best mathematics SS2 award sponsored by AVM Joe Ehigie (Rtd) to Iyase Eghosa; the best Athletics SS2 award sponsored by Madam Ofure Akpata to Egharevba Blossom; the best mathematics JS3 award sponsored by Godwin Ize-Iyamu to Agas Eseoghene David; the best English Language JS3 award sponsored by Mrs. Omokhuwe Alegeh to Aiwehoe Osayuki Gabriel; the Best French JS3 award sponsored by Amb. Vincent Okobi went to Abiodun-Mudasiru Moyosola Marcel while the Best JS1 French Class award went to JS1c and the Best teacher in Geography award sponsored by Omaha Endowment Fund went to Mr. Aghedo B.O.

Other awards presented by the representative of the Head of Service include the outstanding teacher in English to Mrs. Theresa Ehigie, the best N-power outstanding award to Evance Erhabor and the principal of the school, Mr. Samuel Ogbebor also presented the principal award to ECOBA for their contribution to the overall development of Edo College.

“The laudable contributions of ECOBA to the overall development of Edo College cannot be over-emphasized. The old boys have played key roles in activating the core values of the college, its physical environment inclusive, management is extremely grateful to the class set of 92 that built and commissioned a basketball court. By so doing, they have revived the spirit of sportsmanship amongst students,” he added. 

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IGP Must Read This: Shocking Details Of How Police Allegely Manipulated Rape Victim

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Kidnapper

A 19 year old lady simply identified as Oyindamola, was allegedly drugged and gang raped by her boyfriend and his friends at a party in the Alagbado area in Lagos state on June 30th.

 

The older sister of the victim, Mrs Afolabi, in an exclusive interview with LIB, said the victim who was a virgin, was invited to a birthday party by her boyfriend, Roy Arinze, who drugged her, took her away from the party while she was unconcious and raped her alongside two of his friends.

 

On the 30th of June, my sister Oyindamola went for a birthday party with one of her best friend called Roy Arinze. Arround 6pm, Roy invited her to a birthday party which was celebrated by one of his brothers. On getting to the party, Roy brought beer for my sister to drink  and she had never taken beer before. He begged her to drink it so she collected it from him and she drank it. After taking the alcohol, she said she doesn’t know what is happening to her. The next thing, she found herslef in Roy’s house.  Roy took her to his house. She was unconcious. When she woke up, she saw three guys packing blood. She was like what is going on here? What happened. Roy responded that he just fingered her.  She was like you just fingered me and I am seeing three guys packing blood. Roy responded that they came to her rescue.

 

She said she wants to start going home. She woke up around 9.30pm. During that period, she had switched off her phone. We have been looking for her.  They asked her to sleep over but she said no that she cannot wait that she has to go back home. They put her to a bike and she went home.

When my sister got home, she went straight to bed. She did not inform anybody. The next day, my mum went out and she called me to say she wasn’t feeling alright. She said she was feeling pains in her vagina. I asked her what happened and she told me that she went to her boyfriend’s place yesterday and that he told her that he fingered her and that since then, she hasn’t been feeling okay. I was thinking maybe normal tears, maybe the guy slept with her and disvirgined her and she had a few tears. I called a nurse who told me she can take Ampiclox and then sit on warm water.

 

Oyindamola was in so much pain that she couldn’t walk. So she wanted to go and buy the drugs which is Ampiclox. On getting to the pharmacy which was in our neighboorhood, the pharmacist saw the way she was walking and was like what happened to you Oyindamola? She responded that she is having pains all over her body and that she wants to buy drugs. The pharmacist was like you are having body pains and you want to buy Ampiclox? The pharmacist forced her to come closer to see what was happening down. She bent and opened her vagina for the pharmacist.

The pharmacist was shocked and was very suprised. She directed her to    Fumbi Medical Center hospital in our area. She went there and she was admitted. Because my mum wasn’t around and I wasn’t around as well, , she called Roy to tell him she was in the hospital.  The guy came down to the hospital. The doctor asked them to pay N38, 000 to stitch it for my sister. I think the doctor did not know it was something big.

 

Later on,  my mum got in touch with her and asked her ”where are you?’. She said she was in the hospital. When she got to the hospital, my mum was very surpised. She rushed down to the police station  on AIT Alagbado to report. She got there and at the counter, met a female police officer who accompanied her to get Roy arrested.

On getting there, they saw Roy and the doctor discussing. Roy was promising the doctor that he will pay extra N25, 000 to take care of Oyindamola as well as beg our mother on his behalf.

Roy was immediately arrested and taken to the police station. When they got there, the policemen were asking my mum to pay N5000 to open file, another N5000 for transport and another N5000.  They were just asking her for money. She was like money for what? Is it a crime for me to come and tell you that something happened to me and you can’t come to my rescue? (sic)  The police woman told my mum if she cannot pay the money, then she should forget about the case. My mum was surprised and was like why would she say such a thing? She left for home and returned with N5000 which was all she could gather. Before she returned to the police station, I think the police woman and Roy had discussed. Roy asked her to please help him beg my mum  and that he is going to settle the woman.

 

The police woman told my mum that she come so they can settle the matter because she knows she doesn’t have money. She told my mum that if they go to court, she would lose because she doesn’t have money.  She was like you don’t have money to pay N5000 for  transport. My Mum was like why would she say such a thing. She told my mum that she should provide the remaining money asked for as soon as possible otherwise she would release the suspect, Roy.

My mum did not have much with her. She rushed down to the church and called upon the brethren that they should please come to her aid. My mum and the church members visited the police station on Wednesday July 2nd. They went straight to the DPO’s office as the female police officer was not on sit. The DPO wasn’t aware of what was even happening. The DPO said he was not even aware wasn’t even in the cell.

 

He begged my mum and church members.  Some people hinted us that we should call humanright activists that they are ready to fight for us and can take up the issue. We got their number and called them that same Wednesday. We called and Mrs Fola from Ikeja spoke to us. She came on Thursday July 3rd. She met my sister in the Hospital and asked her questions. She also met with doctor. The doctor told Mrs Fola he did not see any sign of penetration and that he doesn’t understand the case and that she should just take it easy.

Mrs Fola then said no that she will not take it easy and that it must be charged to court. That Thursday, the doctor gave us a bill of N55, 000 and asked us to go and pay. My sister all through this period couldn’t urinate by herself. They had to pass a pipe through her body. Unfortuately we don’t have much, we are very rich. We didn’t have much with us. We tried to run helter skelter to raise the money. We didn’t have much because my dad has not been feeling fine for a very long time. He cannot walk. We have been spending much on my dad. This Oyinda own coming suddenly made us weak.

Before then, Roy’s family members have been coming down to the hospital, begging us that we should settle this matter because they are Igbo, we we are Yoruba (sic).  They said they will pick up the bill and that they will give  us some amount of money and that anything we want we should ask for. I personally said no because  this guy is not telling us the truth because after he injured my sister, he cleaned her blood with his clothes and white handkerchief. We even asked for the clothes he used to clean her blood but he said he had burnt it. We don’t even know what he used the blood to do.

 

The police just put him in their custody. They did not question him nor ask him We were also surprised because my sister said they were three when she openned her eyes. They left the remaining two guys. They did not interrogate them.” she said

 

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Speaking further, Mrs Afolabi said the Humanright activisit insisted that Oyinda must be examined at the Mirabel Medical center within seven days as the test will not be able to detect anything after seven days.

On Saturday July 6th, the humanrights activist came to take Oyindamola for the test but the doctor denied her access because we had not paid the hospital bill. The doctor said she cannot release Oyindamola unless the hospital bill is paid. We pleaded that she should just allow Oyindamola to go for the test and come back to the hospital. We were like we will try and go to church on Sunday and gather something. The doctor refused.  Thank God for Mrs Fola. , she spoke with the doctor who pledged to ensure Oyindamola returns to the hospital.

At the end of the day, Mrs Fola left with Oyindamola and my brother to Mirabel for the test. Me and my mum we were there at the hospital. They brought her back to the hospital. On Sunday we got to church and  we were not able to gather anything. We were just tired. Later we agreed that Roy’s family should pay the money because it is their responsibility because they are the ones that caused everything. They paid the bill and we went home.

 

On Monday  July 8th, I went to the police station to find out what is happening and they said they have not made any arrest because they have not seen any evidence. They asked me to take a sheet of paper to Mirabel to collect the result. On Tuesday July 9th, we went down to Mirabel.

 

On that Saturday when they went for the test in Mirabel, they met with one Dr who enlightened Mrs Fola that it was a gang rape. He said from what he saw, it was a gang rape. He said the result will come out in 7 days. He said they raped her through her vagina and through her anus . The doctor was so sad.

 

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According to Mrs Afolabi, on Monday July 15th, the police called for a meeting between her family and Roy’s family members. On getting to the station, Oyindamola and her mother were shocked to see Roy arrriving the police station on a motorbike. They never knew the police had released Roy. A few minutes later, the police informed them that the meeting had been postponed to the next day.  Oyindamola accused the police officer of wasting her time as she was meant to be at the Mirabel medical center for further treatment but had to cancel it because of the meeting.

 

Mrs Afolabi said that to her family’s suprise, the police officer accused Oyindamola of being rude and locked her up in the cell. She said the police threatened her mum that she will also be locked up if she isn’t careful.  She was detained in the cell till the next day July 16th.

 

In the night, the policemen were interrogating her again. They told her that when they get to court, she should tell them that she was not sleeping when Roy was having sex with her. They were collecting another statement from her again.  They did not give her food or medication.

The next day, my mummy came and they said they want to go to court because they have collected another statement. They said they were going to court that morning which was yesterday. She called me and I was surprised. I was angry because the police decided to go to court now after forcing my sister to make another statement. The police officers collected my mum’s phone so she could not be able to talk to me, forced her into a vehicle with Oyindamola and they drove to the court” she said

Mrs Afolabi said Roy was in the court and his lawyers asked the court to grant him bail.

 

The Magistrate court adjourned the case to September 26th.

 

Mrs Afolabi says all her family is demanding is justice for her sister, Oyindamola.

 

Culled: Linda Ikeji

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GTBank Holds 9th Annual Autism Conference July 30th – 31st

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For the ninth year in a row, Africa’s foremost financial institution, Guaranty Trust Bank plc, will bring together some of the world’s leading experts in Autism for two days of critical discourse on supporting children and adults living with Autism in Africa. Organized as part of the GTBank’s Orange Ribbon Initiative, the Annual Autism Conference, will hold on the 30th and 31st of July 2019 at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.

Themed, “Autism: Transitions, Vocational skills and The Role of Technology,” the Annual Autism Conference will bring to the fore the challenges facing children living with Autism as they grow into adulthood. The conference will feature presentations and keynote addresses on how to empower children and adults living with Autism to reach their full potential. Some of the facilitators include Dr. Loretta Burns, a leading expert in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders and the founder of ABE International Clinic; Dr. Tisa Hooper-Johnson, the Medical Director of the HFHS Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD), USA; Janette Washington, a speech-language pathologist with nearly a decade of experience working with children living with autism and other special needs; and Ivie Emokpae, a qualified special needs coordinator from the Institute of Education London.

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Following the Autism conference will be free one-on-one consultations for children with Autism and other developmental challenges, as well as counselling for parents and guardians.

There will also be sessions for Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Behaviour Analysis, Audiology, Clinical Psychology, Developmental Psychiatry, Physiotherapy, and Occupational Therapy. These sessions will hold from Thursday August 1st to Tuesday August 6th, 2019 at Digital Village, Alausa, Lagos.

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Commenting on the 9th Annual Autism Awareness Conference, Segun Agbaje, the Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, said; “Children and adults living with autism often lack the support and vocational training that they need to develop critical life skills for leading independent and productive lives. As an organization that is passionate about uplifting the most vulnerable in our society, we will continue to empower people living with autism with all the support and resources that they need to reach their full potential.”

Guaranty Trust Bank plc is a Nigerian financial institution that has maintained a defined Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy since its inception in 1990.

The Bank actively supports numerous programmes across Africa that positively affect Infant and Maternal Healthcare, Education, the Arts, Community Development and the Environment.

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