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Displaced Cameroonians struggle in Nigeria || By Catherine Wachiaya

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When armed men stormed into the remote village in south-west Cameroon, they took Agah Rachel’s husband, levelled a gun on him and pulled the trigger as she looked on.
As he fell to the ground, the 27-year-old widow knew she had to act fast. She took off with her sons into the surrounding bush with barely enough time to gather any personal belongings.

Frantic to get to safety, she hid out there for days, together with her elder brother and his family. They eventually made it across the border to neighbouring Nigeria.

“Every day and every night, I’m thinking. I’m thinking about the crisis in Cameroon, about my late husband,” says Agah.

Violent clashes between Cameroon’s military and armed separatists have displaced some 437,000 within the country’s borders and forced about 35,000 like Agah to seek safety in Nigeria. The displaced, the majority of whom are women and children, are mostly from English-speaking areas. They face great hardship in both countries.

Having fled with very little, their presence in already impoverished host communities is straining food resources and already limited health, education, water and sanitation facilities in these areas.

UNHCR has launched an urgent appeal to increase support for displaced Cameroonians who have survived nearly two years of ongoing violence. But of the US$184 million required for UNHCR’s operations in Cameroon and Nigeria – including US$35.4 million needed urgently for critical life-saving assistance to newly displaced Cameroonians – just four per cent has been raised.

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Now living in Adagom refugee settlement, Rachel has found safety but is nagged by constant worry over her children’s future.

“For the nine months we have been here, my sons have not gone to school due to the poor school capacity,” she says. “I don’t have any means to cope, I have no source of income.”

Although UNHCR has added extensions to some schools to cater for more students, the numbers are still too high to accommodate them.

Like Rachel, Emmanuel Apusa barely escaped with his life after an attack on his community in Miyerem, close to the border with Nigeria.

“They came to our village and started shooting,” he recalls. “Right now as I speak, there are corpses rotting in the village there.”

He arrived in Nigeria after a grueling three-day trek through the bush, with some neighbours who also managed to escape.

The settlement hosting Emmanuel – one of three refugee sites hosting Cameroonian refugees – has doubled its capacity of 4,000 and currently hosts more than 7,000 refugees. The numbers have further increased as many refugees who previously lived in the host communities have relocated to the settlements since November.

“The situation is desperate,” says Josiah Flomo, the head of UNHCR’s sub office in Ogoja. Lack of funding is severely limiting our ability to adequately meet the people’s needs in almost all the sectors.”

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Flomo adds that pressure on existing facilities including schools, health centers and water points is mounting and current resources are overstretched.

Many of the recent arrivals lack proper shelter. They are accommodated in large reception halls made of plastic sheeting, and even these are full to capacity.

“The situation is not easy for us,” says Emmanuel. “Look at the population here – we cannot sleep inside this hall, so we sleep outside.”

Rachel meanwhile lives in a borrowed tent. However, the conditions are far from ideal as she shares the medium-sized tent with ten people including her own children, her sister-in-law and her children.

“I put a piece of cloth on the ground for my kids and my brother’s kids to lie down,” she explains.

UNHCR is working closely with the Nigerian government to register all new arrivals and provide basic assistance. This includes the harder to reach refugee population living in the host communities in over 47 villages along the border, who make up over 60 per cent of the refugee population.

“Access to refugees in these areas is very challenging because of the time it takes to get there and poor road conditions during the rainy season,” Flomo explains.

To ease the strain on resources, UNHCR plans to put up new shelters for the arrivals and decongest Adagom settlement. Refugees are already being relocated from Adagom to another site, Okende. However, there are fears that – if the crisis in Cameroon continues – more people will become displaced over the coming months and, with the limited resources, UNHCR will not be able to meet their needs.

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“As long as refugees keep arriving, we will need to take care of them,” adds Flomo. “But we need urgent support to help reduce this desperate situation.”

For most of the refugees, including Rachel and Emmanuel, the struggle to cope with life in exile will continue.

“I am suffering. We are suffering,” laments Rachel. “It’s not easy to leave your country to go and suffer in a different country.”

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Prices of tomatoes, yam, rice drop in June, NBS confirms

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its Selected Food Price Watch (June 2019)’ report confirmed that average price of major food items including tomatoes, yam, and rice reduced in the month of June.

According to the  report,  the average price of one kilogramme of tomatoes reduced from N317.67 recorded in June 2018 to N226.07 in June 2019, representing a 28.84 per cent decrease.

It added that the price of one kilogramme of tomatoes reduced from N249.52 recorded in May 2019 to N226.07 in June, also representing a 9.40 per cent reduction.

NBS,  in its report, also revealed that the average cost of one kilogramme of rice (imported high quality sold loose) decreased from N373.47 in June 2018 to N352.82 in June 2019.

The price of one kilogramme of rice, according to it, reduced from N361.39 recorded in May 2019 to N352.82 in June 2019, representing a 2.37 per cent decrease.

The bureau explained that fieldwork was done solely by more than 700 NBS staff in all states across the country,

It added that the fieldwork was supported by supervisors who were monitored by internal and external observers.

NBS hinted  that the prices were collected across all the 774 local government areas, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from over 10,000 respondents and locations, stressing that they reflect actual prices households said they actually bought the items.

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It said the average of all the prices was reported for each state, adding that the average for the country was the average for the state.

“Selected food price watch data for June 2019 reflected that the average price of 1 dozen of Agric eggs medium size decreased year-on-year by -8.23% and increased month-on-month by 6.55% to N495.32 in June 2019 from N464.87 in May 2019, while the average price of piece of Agric eggs medium size (price of one) decreased year-on-year by -5.01% and month-on-month by -8.20% to N39.30 in June 2019 from N42.82 in May 2019.

“The average price of 1kg of tomato decreased year-on-year by -28.84% and month-on-month by -9.40% to N226.07 in June 2019 from N249.52 in May 2019.

“The average price of 1kg of rice (imported high quality sold loose) decreased year-on-year by -5.53% and month-on-month by -2.37% to N352.82 in June 2019 from N361.39 in May 2019.

“Similarly, the average price of 1kg of yam tuber decreased year-on-year by -36.27% and month-on-month by -15.68% to N182.15 in June 2019 from N216.03 in May 2019″, the report reads.

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Critics of open governance can’t distract me, says Makinde

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The Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde has declared that critics of his style of open governance cannot distract his government from recording giant strides in the State.

Governor Makinde, who made the declaration while speaking at the inauguration of the South West Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the United Kingdom, said that he was aware why there has been so much searchlight on his person and his administration.

A statement by Governor Makinde’s Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, also quoted the Governor as tasking PDP Stakeholders to readily project the good deeds of the party’s office holders in order not to give room for negative narrative.

Makinde, who observed that interest groups in the United Kingdom had played important roles in the politics of Nigeria, said that no fewer than 200,000 Nigerians now live in the United Kingdom.

He said that the task ahead of the PDP is to regroup and launch chapters everywhere Nigerians are found.

The Governor said:” I am aware of the enormity of the responsibility that rests on me. The searchlight is beamed upon me, and all my actions are being met with the strictest scrutiny.”

“I know that it is the seeming controversial that will be given more attention. My open declaration of my assets is generating furore in certain quarters, but these are unnecessary distractions, my focus and the focus of our administration is on good governance. We shall not be distracted”, he added

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Governor Makinde also seized the opportunity to invite investors to Oyo state, declaring that his efforts so far have been geared towards eradicating the out-of-school children syndrome, which he said, accounts for 400,000 right now, expansion of the state’s economy and promoting security.

“In the past month, I have focused on two things to set Oyo State on the path to greatness: Ensuring that we put the right policies and processes in place, and working with ideas that will help increase Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the state.”

He stated that his focus on security was borne out of the fact that without security, businesses cannot thrive adding that he had given his commitment to enhancing security to the Commanders of the Task Force in charge of Oyo and Osun, Operation Burst.

According to the Governor, the decision by the state government to cancel the N3, 000 school levy, and examination fees had resulted in the unprecedented huge turnout of students for placement examination into JSS1, and the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) conducted in the state last week.

The Governor also said that the commitment of the PDP towards strategizing for the future was not in doubt adding that members of the party must also be alive to their responsibilities.

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He said: “The PDP has one job and one job only:  regroup, refocus, re-strategise. Creating Chapters, everywhere in the world where Nigerians are found, shows our commitment to this job. I believe Nigerians have had the opportunity to see clearly which party really means business.

“I have one request to make of you: never stop talking about the good things we are doing. When good things are not given prominence, the consensus is that only bad things are happening. We cannot allow evil narratives about the PDP or its stakeholders to gain any type of momentum. It is our jobs as worthy ambassadors to shut down such narratives, quickly and definitively.”

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Bernard Arnault becomes world’s second-richest man

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how did he make his billions?

 

Louis Vuitton (LVMH) boss Bernard Arnault, 70, overtook Bill Gates to become the second richest person in the world, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index announced Wednesday—and he did it in style.

The French businessman, who is the force behind many of the biggest names in luxury, pushed to the second spot after a stellar year for LVMH, which saw company shares rise 43%. His net worth is now estimated at $107.6 billion—an increase of $39.1 billion in a single year.

This remains way short of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ $124 billion fortune. Yet Europe’s richest person—whose fortune is estimated to be equivalent to 3% of France’s GDP—is one of only three members in the ultra-exclusive centibillionaire’s club.

But just who is Bernard Arnault? And how did he make his fortune? More importantly, how does he manage to spend all that cash?

A fateful taxi ride

After studying engineering at the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and graduating in 1971, Arnault joined his family’s construction company, Ferret-Savinel, as an engineer. Yet it was a chance meeting in New York that proved to have a far more dramatic impact.

Sitting in a yellow cab, Arnault asked the driver what he knew of France. “He could not name the president but he knew Dior,” Arnault recently told the Financial Times.

From there, Arnault’s course was set: within three years—and by the age of 30—he’d reinvented Ferret-Savinel as a real estate firm called Férinel, and replaced his father as company president. And in 1984, he embarked on an even more drastic venture. After lobbying the French government, he left Férinel and took up the reins of faltering textile company, Boussac—whose portfolio included the house of Dior—and systematically turned the company into the launchpad for his luxury empire. The purchase price? One Franc.

A luxury shopping spree

In 1987, Arnault was asked to mediate in the rancorous merger of Möet Hennessy and Louis Vuitton, largely because LV held the rights to Dior perfume and Henry Racamier, the 77-year-old chairman of LV, saw him as an ally, according to a report from the New York Times.

Arnault had other plans, however, and instead sided with Moet Hennessy boss, Alain Chevalier, and bought 27% of LVMH in combination with Guinness. This grew to 37% in 1988 and by 1989 Arnault was the biggest shareholder. A year later Racamier resigned from his own family firm and Arnault become both chairman and CEO of LVMH.

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It was part of a rapid expansion that saw Arnault snap up luxury firms including Céline (1988), Berluti (1993), Guerlain (1994), Marc Jacobs (1997), Thomas Pink (1999), Fendi (2001), and DKNY (2001).

LVMH itself now comprises 75 ‘houses,’ including Dom Pérignon, Bulgari, Givenchy, and TAG Heuer. Alongside the 23-story LVMH Tower on New York’s 57th Street, the company owns the Cheval Blanc ski resort in Courchevel, the Hotel Cipriani in Venice (site of George Clooney’s 2016 wedding), the Orient Express, and luxury resorts in the Caribbean, Maldives, St. Tropez, and Paris.

In 1999, Arnault also invested in a small but enterprising DVD rental firm. It’s name? Netflix.

A bet pays off

Arnault was one of the first overseas businessmen to take the gamble of investing in China at the start of Deng Xiaoping’s market-economy reforms, opening a Louis Vuitton store in Beijing in 1992.

The risk has massively paid off over the years. In the first quarter of this year, for instance, LVMH reported a revenue increase of 16% to $14.10 billion, largely fueled by Chinese buyers, who account for over a third of the luxury sector’s sales.

“With the Chinese, the business is really moving from strength to strength,” Financial Director Jean-Jacques Guiony told reporters in April.

Going after Gucci

Like all business leaders, Arnault has suffered his fair share of failures along the way. Most notably, his 1999 attempt to takeover Gucci—described as “the bloodiest fight in fashion” by the New York Post—which resulted in litigation that Arnault ultimately lost. To his chagrin, the fashion house fell into the arms of arch-rival François Pinault for $2.92 billion.

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In 2014, Arnault also admitted defeat in a four-year attempt to purchase luxury scarf-maker Hermès, after then-Hermès Chief Executive Patrick Thomas launched court proceedings to prevent LVMH from mounting a takeover. Arnault eventually agreed to relinquish his 23% stake in Hermès as a result.

Elsewhere, Arnault has unsuccessfully challenged the dominance of luxury auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s by buying British auctioneers Phillips in 1999 and got his fingers badly burnt with online retailer Boo.com, which went into liquidation in 2000.

Rising to second place

An April 10 release detailing first-quarter trading for LVMH, stated that, “All geographic regions are experiencing good growth.

“This includes a 20% increase in sales of fashion & leather goods, a 13 % rise in sales of wines & spirits and a 12 % increase in sales of perfumes & cosmetics. Overall, LMVH showed first-quarter growth of 16% and organic growth of 11% compared to 2018. Its overall revenue was around $14.3 billion.

These better-than-expected results have led to a 27% rise in LVMH shares since January 29, when the group announced record sales for 2018.

Arnault is not resting on his laurels, either. On April 17, LVMH announced the completion of its $3.2 billion deal for Belmond, making them part-owners or managers of 45 luxury hotel, restaurant, train, and river cruise properties.

Rihanna and Stella

On May 10, they followed this up with the creation of the new Fenty fashion line, centered around Barbadian pop star Rihanna.

“Designing a line like this with LVMH is an incredibly special moment for us,” Rihanna said in a release. “Mr. Arnault has given me a unique opportunity to develop a fashion house in the luxury sector, with no artistic limits. I couldn’t imagine a better partner both creatively and business-wise.”

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More recently, LVMH announced a partnership with Stella McCartney’s name sake brand, which was publicly owned by rival company Kering until last year. The pair did not disclose the terms of the deal, but said it will allow McCartney to continue as creative director and majority owner of the brand.

“The chance to realize and accelerate the full potential of the brand alongside Mr. Arnault and as part of the LVMH family, while still holding the majority ownership in the business, was an opportunity that hugely excited me,” McCartney said in a release.

“It is the beginning of a beautiful story together, and we are convinced of the great long-term potential of her House,” said Arnault, before stressing that McCartney’s ethical principles were “a decisive factor”.

With the fashion world increasingly drawing criticism for its environmenal footprint, McCartney’s brand is clearly one that Arnault and LVMH can draw from.

“She was the first to put sustainability and ethical issues on the front stage, very early on, and built her House around these issues,” Arnault added about McCartney. “LVMH was the first large company in France to create a sustainability department, more than 25 years ago, and Stella will help us further increase awareness on these important topics.”

 

 

Source : Fortune

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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