EXPERTS PREDICT BLEAK XMAS FOR STOCK MARKET PLAYERS…NSE DG SAYS CNN FRIGHTENED NIGERIAN INVESTORS

In an extension of the warnings of FORTUNE&CLASS Weekly to investors not to be quick to excitement in the wake of the sudden resurgence of stock prices at the stock exchange, some stock market analysts have predicted a bleak Christmas season for stock investors that are hopeful of making some gains in the market to supplement their expenditures during the Yuletide season.

FORTUNE&CLASS Weekly, had, in a special review of the stock market in its issue 43, informed the investing public to be wary in rushing to the market in the expectation of reaping a bounty because of the surge in price. The report revealed that the ascendancy of the bull in the market was merely a machination of the early birds institutional investors and financial institutions that had, in collaboration with selected stockbrokers, driving market prices of targeted stocks with intention to dump when prices of the selected stocks attain pre-determined price threshold.

With the market reversal to the pre-eminence of the bears as characterized by persistent price declines, market analysts have dared to warn that the market till the second quarter of next year (2009) will be a play ground for institutional and financial sector speculators that have some liquidity to play the market to recoup losses earlier incurred.

“An overview of the market shows that most institutional players and financial sector investors are only interested in salvaging what they can of the loses they made when the market started experiencing the downturn.” One of the analysts reasoned.

“The fact is that this category of investors entered the market when stock prices were at the bullish high, just at about that time prices commenced dramatic fall. So, what these investors are doing now is to raid the market which, in truth, has many fundamentally strong stocks that are selling at rock bottom prices. Before the return to the recent round of price decline, you will observe that about eight stocks appreciated by 25 percent and above, so, it made good business for these speculators to dump their shares and take profit. This is what led to the market slip to the bears once again.”

Speaking on the prospect of a stock market rebound as the Christmas season approaches, another market analyst said the illiquidity in the market still persist just as confidence building by regulatory authorities falters.

“The hope of a rebound in the market as Christmas approaches is quite bleak. Do not forget that we have two major celebrations in December, that is, the Idel Fitri and Christmas. Now, most people would want to raise money for the pleasure of these two celebrations. Either the market is low or not, there are so many investors whose store of wealth is actually locked-in in their stocks, so naturally, they will approach the market to sell what they can dispose off. This will add to the surfeit of stocks in the market and, of course, when there is a continuation of stock dumping, the market appreciates in the negative.

“I must, however, say that this review is not absolute, government may decide to intervene before then or the Central Bank of Nigeria may introduce some revolutionary approach to salvage the market from the bears, however, if this is not done, I think market speculators would become set in their ways. The scenario I see is that a number of high profile stock broking firms with the banking of some commercial banks can target selected stocks, conduct a raid on them and once the prices appreciate to a certain level, they sell off within a short period. This is what we experienced about two weeks ago.” The analyst posited.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Prof. (Mrs.) Ndi Okereke-Onyuike has argued that Nigerian investors were frightened away from the capital market by the global influence of the Cable News Network (CNN).

In a chat with Proshare Nigeria, an online investment focused platform, Prof. (Mrs.) Okereke Onyuike explained that the global phenomenon ought not to affect the nation’s capital market.

“What happened the last time was a global phenomenon; which ought not to affect our market; because the fundamentals of quoted companies in our Nation’s Stock Exchange are strong and resilient. Investors always join the bandwagon; however, the global influence of the CNN actually frightened our investors and caused the panic selling.” The Stock Exchange DG said.

“As these investors observed events, every market in the world was coming down, they did not realise that these Markets were coming down due to certain fundamental issues that went wrong in the Western economy. Investors in Nigeria believed that as things were coming down in places like New York, London, Paris and other advanced economies; that Nigeria would also be affected and maybe worst hit. They didn’t realise that in our case we are not too exposed to foreign investors. Maybe their (foreign) participation in the market is less than nine percent (9%). This coupled with Portfolio Managers who dumped shares and even then, the dumped shares were bought over by Nigerians. Therefore, it was the media panic; specifically CNN that frightened our investors.” Prof. Okereke-Onyuike further affirmed.

Pleading with investors to resume participation in the Nigeria stock market, the DG said: “I am urging Nigerian investors to come back to the Market, there is no need running away from it. We are trying to rebuild the confidence in the Nigerian Capital Market because our quoted companies are resilient with strong fundamentals. Take for instance an organisation like Union Bank of Nigeria Plc (UBN). What are the reasons investors would not want to buy shares of the Bank? The Union Bank stock is selling and has strong fundamentals coupled with a superlative performance.

“Most of our quoted companies, about 90 percent (90%) of them, are doing well. They have not really been affected by the global meltdown. The glut of shares in the market that contributed to its temporary meltdown was due to the fear created by media like CNN on issues relating to the Western World, with this development, like I said earlier on, the Nigerian investors thought that it would be worst in the country; thereby they started dumping their shares.

“However, I think that investors are beginning to gain back confidence in the market and they are also observing that there is nothing wrong with our quoted companies. Those in the Manufacturing, Banking and other sectors are doing well bringing out their results. There goods and services are more in demand than supply, so there is nothing wrong with the market like I said earlier.” The DG elucidated

Noting that it would be a while before the stock market drives its way back to the highs it attained before the decline, Prof. Okereke-Onyuike said: “This is the best time to invest though it will take a little while for the share prices to go back to the original levels they were. Therefore, I advise investors who have liquidity to buy shares in the nation’s stock market; the best time to buy is when prices are low,” She explained.

ADENUGA’S EXPATRIATE DIRECTOR RESIGNS FOR FEAR OF NIGER DELTA MILITANTS

Mr. Pandanam, an Indian expatriate who holds a high ranking office in Dr. Mike Adenuga (Jnr) Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB) was not intended on leaving Nigeria in a hurry. The Indian, who, until he left Nigeria in a hurry, was the bank’s Regional Services Director, decided to bid farewell to his job at ETB when he was posted to the Port Harcourt office of the bank.

Inside sources in ETB informed FORTUNE&CLASS Weekly that the expatriate was shocked by the posting to a city which he claimed is the hotbed of militant activities in the Niger Delta. The sources further confided that Pandamanam made strenuous efforts to appeal to the management of the bank to reconsider the decision to post him to Port Harcourt.

“We even heard that he made efforts to get Otunba Adenuga to persuade the management to rescind the decision on account of the risks an expatriate working in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria is exposed.” A source said. “He also argued that he did not have the millions of naira kidnappers in the Niger Delta region are likely to demand for and, as such, he should be saved from the imminent danger he will be exposed to by the transfer to work in Port Harcourt.” The source explained.

Nobody was, however, persuaded with the pleas of the expatriate: “The management had the backing of Otunba on the posting and it was affirmed to him again that he should proceed to resume in Port Harcourt. But when he realized he could not convince anybody in the top hierarchy of the bank’s management, he tendered his resignation and left the service of the bank. I understand he packed his belongings and moved out of the country.” The source added.

FINANCIALBRIDGE: HOW TO DO BUSINESS WITH THE AMERICAN INVESTMENT COMPANY THAT FACILITATES OFFSHORE FUNDING FOR NIGERIAN BUSINESSES

When Patrick Fournie, Senior Advisor with FinancialBridge, Inc. made his presentation on the “Private Ownership of Modular Refineries in Nigeria: The New Trend in Building Petroleum Refining Capacity: The Financialbridge Experience” at a seminar organized by the Energy Industry Development Initiative at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos State, this past Tuesday, 11 November, 2008, seminar participants listened with rapt attention.

Fournie presentation, was for the Nigerian and other foreign participants at the seminar, a revelation of a new vista in financing strategies on the pivot of offshore financing, he informed the seminar of how FinancialBridge is facilitating funding for a Pharmaceutical Project in Abuja, at a cost of $12.2 million and an aluminum roofing sheet & allied project at Onna in Akwa Ibom State at a cost of $6.6million. FinancialBridge, he said, is also involved in funding for an amusement park project at Isheri, Ogun State, at a projected cost of $22.3 Million, a pit quarry mining project at Oyebiyi, Oyo State at a projected cost of $7.5 million and a 5-Star luxury hotel in Abuja at a projected cost of $55.8 million.

Other projects FinancialBridge had been engaged to facilitate funding for by Nigerian entrepreneurs are the phase one of the 12,000Barrels per day modular refinery project at Eket in Akwa Ibom State at a cost of $43.7 million and the 12,000Barrels Per Day modular refinery project at Kolo Creek in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State at a projected cost of $121.3 million. A $197.5 million 18,000Barrels Per Day modular refinery project in Edo State is also one of the projects FinancialBridge is facilitating offshore funding for.

Fournie who flew into Nigeria to make further revealed how his company had structured funding and project implementation procedures for the soon to be streamed 12,000 Barrels Per Day Amakpe Refinery Project at Ikot Usekong – Eket in Akwa Ibom State and the Rehoboth Refinery, also a 12,000 Barrels Per Day Refinery Project in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Fournie, who, on behalf of Financialbridge, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) appointing Energy Industry Development Initiative as its representative in Nigeria, explained that FinancialBridge is an export finance and business credit consulting firm:

“We work with U.S. and international financial institutions to provide innovative funding solutions to private companies and government agencies, including: export trade finance, project finance, public sector financing and export working capital. We are also involved in equity financing and facilitation of bridging loans” Fournie said.

“We cooperate with Project Implementation and Management Companies in ensuring effective utilization of procured funds for successful planning and execution of related projects and trade transactions.”

Highlighting its primary sources of export funding in the United States financial market, Fournie said his company’s sources include: Export-Import Bank of the United States (U.S. Ex-Im), Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Export Finance Banks and Credit Insurance Companies, among others:

“Ex-Im Bank is the official Export-Credit Agency of the United States that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by financing the sale of U.S. Exports, primarily to emerging markets throughout the world. Ex-Im Bank provides Loan Guarantees, Export-Credit Insurance and Direct Loans, in fiscal year 2007, Ex-Im Bank authorized $12.6 billion in financing to support an estimated $16 billion of U.S. exports worldwide.” Fournie said.

Perhaps, of importance to Nigerian entrepreneurs, is the revelation by Fournie that the Ex- Im Bank has approved a $1.0 billion facility to guarantee Nigerian Projects (of which $800 million is still available) despite the global financial melt down.

Explaining the process for securing offshore funding for projects in Nigeria, Fournie said:

“Under the Ex-Im Bank Guarantee Program, the Promoter is required to provide Statutory Equity Contribution of 15% of U.S. Cost Content, while the U.S. Lender funds 85% of the U.S. Cost Content utilizing the Comprehensive Credit Guarantee of Ex-Im Bank. The Project Promoter is further required to provide Local Bank Guarantee to support the 85% portion of the U.S. Loan as well as finance local In-Country Costs requirements within the overall Project Cost.The U.S. Ex-Im Guaranteed Loans have Medium Term Tenure of 5 to 7 years at Interest Rates of +/- 2% above Six Months Floating LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate).

Some of the projects funding prospects of FinancialBridge include Oil and Gas (Modular Oil Refineries, Gas Gathering & Processing Plants, Downstream Petrochemical Projects, Pipelines, etc.), Energy (Gas Turbines and Diesel Powered Plants), Communications (Wireless VSAT Network VoIP Telephone, Fax, High Speed Broadband Internet Systems, Cable TV, etc.) and Solid Mineral (Quarrying & Processing).

Other funding prospects are: Manufacturing and Assembly (Small and Medium Scale Plants), Construction (Pre-engineered Buildings & Facilities, Stadiums & Arenas, Industrial Parks, etc.) Agro-Business (Farming & Food Processing), Medical (Pharmaceutical Projects, Supplies & Clinics), Tourism (Amusement Parks, Hotels/Resorts, etc) and Aviation (Used & New Passenger & Cargo Aircrafts, Helicopters, Airport Development & Expansion, Avionics & Spare Parts, etc.)

Highlighting the milestones already attained with the 12,000 Barrels Per Day (BPD) Amakpe Refinery as a case study, Fournie said:

“The Amakpe Refinery is being implemented in two phases, with Phase 1 – 6000BPD Refinery Plant originally estimated to cost about $36.5 million and now revised to cost $43.7 million, including Escalation, and revised Field Erection Costs. Construction of 12KM Dual Steel Pipeline connecting Exxon/Mobile QIT and Amakpe Tank Farm is estimated at $10 million of Additional Cost. The Project is expected to start production by October 2009. Out of the current revised Project cost of $43.7 million, $26.2 million has been expended while $17.5 million is outstanding to complete full funding of the Project.

“UPS Capital/Ex-Im Bank Loan of $10.3 milion is being disbursed to Ventech, based on P&M Construction Progress Payment while Amakpe Refinery has fully paid required statutory Equity Contribution and continues to pay the Counterpart Funds. Akwa Ibom State Government Investment of $8.5 million has also been applied to the Project

“As at June 27, 2008, Ventech achieved 50% Mechanical Completion of the Refinery Plants and Machinery Fabrication, which was certified by visiting representatives of the Department of Petroleum Resources, including Mr. M.D.B. Ladan-Head Downstream, Mr. O.A. Adeleke- Assistant Director, Dr. D.M.E. Eradiri- Chief Environmental Officer, Mr. Oyedele Sangobowale and Mr. Hussaini Basaka-Site Representatives. Based on this development, Amakpe Refinery has qualified to receive $1.2million Security Deposit earlier paid to DPR as a requirement for revalidation of related Refinery Construction License.

“Sterling Bank has approved additional $9.3 million Loan Facility for the Project. Amakpe Refinery is planning to issue 15,000,000 Shares of Common Stock of the Company for sale to Private Investors. The Private Placement is being packaged by Financialbridge and Sterling Bank for issuance by Sterling Capital Markets (Issuing House).

To start -up the process of obtaining required funding, a Company is required to retain the services of Financialbridge which will develop a Bankable Business Plan that will satisfy U.S. Export Financial Market requirements and procure the Project Loan.

The retainership will further cover service coordination of Project Loan Packaging and Procurement that will involve the Borrower and the U.S. Lender. The U.S. Lender will underwrite the submitted statutory documentation leading to Loan approval, following which the Lender will request the U.S. Ex-Im Bank for issuance of Political Risk and Medium-Term Insurance/ Comprehensive Credit Guarantee before disbursement of related Loan. The process of underwriting the Loan through approval and disbursement could be concluded within 45-90 days after the U.S. Lender receives the complete statutory documentation as outlined.

Financialbridge be responsible in carrying out tasks that will result in the successful procurement of U.S. Loan for the implementation of the project which include: Conduct of Feasibility Study and preparation of Bankable Business Plan that will satisfy U.S. Export Financial Market requirements. The Business Plan will be concluded within 30-45 days from receipt of Engagement Fee, Data from Market Research as well as Borrowers information. The draft of the Business Plan will be forwarded to the Company for approval and possible input before production of final Document.

FinancialBridge also processes Due Diligence, Approval and Disbursement of Project Loan within 45-90 days of the U.S. Financial Institutions receiving and underwriting complete statutory documentation from the Nigerian company.

If required, Financialbridge can also be engaged to Package and Instrument Private Placement of Shares of Common Stock of the company to raise additional funds through Private Equity Investment, utilizing a local Nigerian Bank as Issuing House.

The Funds raised through the Private Placement could be applied to fund Local Project Site Development and In-Country Costs as well as required Equity Contribution, etc.

The Nigerian company shall be responsible for the following within the requirements for successful Loan Procurement, including: Obtaining Nigerian Bank Guarantee for 85% or 75% of the total U.S. Loan amount to fund the Project, depending on the Ex-Im Bank or OPIC requirement.

Securing all required Permits and Licenses from Nigerian Regulatory Authorities, submission of three years audited financial statements of the Nigerian bank as certified by a renowned accounting firm. Provision of Equity Contribution of 15% of total U.S. costs content within the overall Project cost for U.S. Ex-Im Bank Guaranteed Loan to be added to 85% of total U.S. cost content as Loan, or 25% as statutory Equity contribution of total Project

Confirming Energy Industry Development Initiative’s (EIDI) relationship with FinancialBridge, the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tom Obaseki said FinancialBridge has already shown interest in facilitating funding for some project ideas it had forwarded to FinancialBridge.

“As we speak, we have forwarded project proposals for the establishment of 5-7 MMSCFD Modular Gas Gathering, LPG and Lean Gas Production Plant in Nigeria, the establishment of Integrated 55MW Power Plant, Natural Gas Gathering and LPG Processing Project in Nigeria and for Development of Pre-engineered Medical Clinic & Diagnostic Centers, Pharmaceutical Project and Customized Medical Trailers & Boat Clinics, complete with Outreach Medical Technicians Training Support.” Obaseki explained.

HOW TO RAISE MONEY FOR YOUR RETIREMENT BUSINESS

Retirement is a period of rest after long tedious working hours adding up to years as a salary earner, but to many in this part of a developing economy like Nigeria, it is a moment to even own a business.

Many retirees are fond of retiring to a country home’s farm-land or to a cottage business. This is like retiring into a working schedule; it is, however, different from full blown retirement.

A man can only go into full blown retirement if he had seriously been planning for a long time for it. Despite the illegal acquisition of wealth, and embezzlement by African leaders most of whom were ex-military dictators and office holders, still get involved in one form of business or political appointment.

But the principal perceived obstacle confronting many retirees wishing to retire to their private business relates to how to arise fund for their businesses.

According to FOOLS DOT.COM analysis and recommended strategies, If you look at search engine statistics, in other words, if you look at terms and words people type into the search box when surfing the net on a search engine like Google you will see that one of the most popular “small business” related search word that people type is “How can I get money to start my own business?”

Knowing this, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that other extremely popular small business search terms or rhetorical questions include:

•Where to find money to start a business
•Raise money to start a business
•Grants for starting a small business
• Loans for starting a small business

I am going to tell you where you find the money you need to start your very own business. But I need to level with you right here. There’s no free money for starting your own business. No person or government agency hands out grants or free money or loans without strict repayment clauses. Anybody who tries to tell you differently, please hang on to your wallet.

OK. That warning made, even if you’re dead broke, you can usually still get the money needed to start your own business. And if you have any financial assets at all–for example, if you have a job or the capacity to get a job–you will easily be able to accumulate the money you need to start your own business without a doubt.

I talk in a lot more detail about how to get the money you need to start your own business in the Start Your Very Own Retirement Business However, even with limited space; I can share several useful tips:

MONEY TO START A BUSINESS TIP #1:

You don’t need as much money to start a business as you think. Or at least, not if you start the right sort of business. Now, yes, of course, you need a lot of money if you’re thinking about doing computer aided manufacturing using million-dollar machines. Or if you’re thinking about investing in expensive real estate properties. However, if you’re limited in your financial resources, you can’t (and should not) think about starting those kinds of businesses. Rather, you want to focus on a service business…one where the business doesn’t require expensive machinery or showy accoutrements. Like turning your hobby into source of money or you get financial support or soft loan from friends

MONEY TO START A BUSINESS TIP #2:

While theoretically speaking you can only get money from investors and lenders, that doesn’t mean you have to get your loans from a regular bank… or get your equity capital from traditional investors. Even the most financially strapped entrepreneur can often borrow from nontraditional sources. For example, do you know there’s a common way to borrow from your customers? (It’s by getting an upfront retainer or deposit.) Do you know you can often borrow from a retirement account without paying penalties or interest? For anyone who can get or has a job, there are ways to raise the modest amount of capital required to start a service business.

MONEY TO START A BUSINESS TIP #3:

One final general point about finding the money to start a business: You can often trade time for money when you’re talking about raising money to start a business. For example, you can do work yourself (and save costs that way obviously). And you can walk through the steps to starting up your business more slowly (and so save money that way). These sort of bootstrapping techniques, as they’re called, are well known to experienced entrepreneurs–the people who tend to start business after business. The bootstrapping techniques aren’t as commonly applied to small service businesses. But the techniques can be applied and I’ll tell you how in the Starting a Business as you continues to read this page.

So, raise the capital for starting your retirement business requires patience and in-depth understanding of how to nurture an idea to become a money yielding affair. But there are some fundamental quality you must have to be a successful business owner and a retired business mogul.

Don’t be too bothered or enveloped by the emotion on how to raise the money, also think about how to manage and multiply the investment because you must understand yourself [strength and limitation], understanding the psychology of your target audience and the economic trends in the country. With this environmental scanning you will be able to plan ahead.

So, if your plan is to establish a private business as a retirement option, think deeply about who will succeed you and how transition will not affect the efficiency of the company.

Contact a qualified pension consultant today, to guide you, and put you and your whole house hold or dependants through the process of transiting from salary earner to salary payer, from employee to entrepreneur.

BETWEEN THE LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT AND AUTO DEALERS

In another bid to foster a better relationship with all facets of the society and the private sector, the Lagos State government has concluded plan to partner with automobile players in the State. This revelation was made by the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Bamidele Badejo, through his representative, Director of Dealership Licensing Authority, Lagos, Mr. H. B. Sarumi at the National Automobile Marketing Conference held last week in Lagos.

He also stated that the state government frowns at the spate at which car sales are being displayed on the road walks, advising that dealers should have standard automart to showcase their products. In his words, “Lagos State is not happy seeing car sales on the road walks, but implores our dealers to have an automart through which you could display your cars.”

While answering questions from the participants at the event pertaining to the minimum age of a second hand vehicle permitted on Nigerian roads, Sarumi said the minimum year required of a second hand vehicle is 5years.

“If you will recall that about 7 years ago, most of these cars hardly have MOT. The number of years has been reduced from seven to five years. But Lagos State tries looking at the multipliers effect in buying a second hand cars and spare parts, therefore sensitising the people in order to reduce the number of lives lost due to road unworthiness for such vehicles.”

The Director stated, however, that, “with private partnership, the government wishes to ensure that car sale is streamlined, but should be noted that it is not the intention of the government to put anyone out of business.

And in order to ease the problem of vehicle registration by the dealers, 13 zonal offices have been created by the government in strategic locations around Lagos.”

With a note of warning imploring the public to do what is right and obey all traffic laws, he stated that the issue of traffic management is on the front burner of the state government. He stressed that the current slogan being carried in the ministries is ‘If you see your leader doing his job, then you must do your job’.

The one day event, tagged A Day Out With Auto Legends of Our Time enjoyed the presence of the representatives of notable auto dealers in the Nigerian auto world like Chief Michael Ade. Ojo, Mr. Sanni Dauda, Mr. William Anumudu. Mr. Olusola Dada and Oka Obono were chairman and guest speaker respectively.

Kia Picanto: Girls, Girls and Girls

Imagine driving along one of the most spectacular ocean roads in Lagos; the 3rd Mainland Bridge: a bridge that links the Lagos Mainland to the high rise strewn section of the Centre of Excellence. When there is no traffic snarl on the bridge the scenery can be charming but the experience won’t be complete if you are not driving a Kia Picanto mini-car.

The 4 cylinder SOHC mini, housing 12 valves in its brain, takes the speed with an equated horse power of 61bhp at 5, 600 revolutions in one minute having a force of 836.3Nm to create a motion at 2900rpm. Having its 0-60mph pegged at 16.4 second, the engine really needs to be worked hard at, for overtaking or entering motorways from sliproads is a leap of faith. Although, this type of engine makes the 1.1-litre Picanto economical and nimble having 55.5mpg as its combined figure, the engine needs to be worked hard to maintain motorway cruise.

Aside creating a petite impression, it’s pleasing to know that the car comes with pleasantries that come with big cars; talking of the power steering, remote central locking and an alarm. Only at speed are some deficiencies in the Picanto’s chassis displayed; too much body roll and vague steering means it’s not up with the class leaders.

By being selfish in giving out all the goodies, I mean, withholding one which I am not quiet sure if it is an advantage or disadvantage. Or better still, maybe, I should call it an incomplete evolution of the mini, even though Kia PR department thinks otherwise, is the rationality of having just the front windows automatic, while leaving the back one manual.

It’s a pleasurable ride though when it comes to handling of the petite machine. It’s quite a worthy carrier to get around town with, especially, in the Lagos ever busy traffic laden roads. The ride is good, and it’s small enough to slip through gaps in traffic. Besides, the mini is one of the easiest to park vehicles, even when the park is filled!

Don’t be deceived by the exterior smallish size. Kia’s last born has an interior ambience for the tallest occupant. The volume of the boot supports a 220 litre of luggage though the shape compromised the amount that could be squeezed in, but gives you 800 litres of room with the seats folded.

The spec model you want determines what your Picanto offers, from alloy wheels, steel wheels, Instant Mobility system (TIS), CD & MP3 players, 4 speaker system, AUX, USB & iPod port (inc connecting cable) and so much more.

However, the little beauty doesn’t come without its own disadvantages, but if you are hooked with the price tag, then, other shortcomings could be forgiven. Unusual of a mini, the Picanto doesn’t have a spare; instead, it comes with TIS which is essentially a bottle of resin and a compressor to patch the tyre up to get you home. The minus is that the tyre can’t be repaired, but must be replaced. Do you still think it’s cheap!

In terms of reliability, the hatchback still enjoys the parent’s reputation in building the most reliable cars. Baby Picanto feels more solid than some other cars in its class, the build quality seems good. But with a clause on safety, the Picanto did badly in the crash test, only doing just enough to merit its three star rating. However, it is a big relief that the child occupant is well protected, where the parents are not too lucky, and also scoring poor in the pedestrians protection. The Picanto comes with ABS and two front air bags as standard, so it meets the standard you expect of a car this price

But, all in all, everything about the car speaks girls, girls, and girls! If nothing else, Kia Motors wins their hearts. With a name like Picanto, derived from the French word ‘piquant’ meaning ‘spicy’ and ‘Canto’ meaning ‘song,’ I might not be too off the mark if I say it is a great little car for them girls!

DANGOTE, YAR’ADUA FALL APART OVER ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT…MOVES TO ATIKU’s CAMP

The chummy relationship between Nigeria’s President, Umar Musa Yar’Adua and businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote may have hit the rocks, a source has said.

The source confided that though the President appreciates the support Dangote provided him while running for the office of the nation’s presidency but differences in matters relating to economic empowerment of Nigerians may have turned the president against the businessman profiled by American based Forbes Magazine to be the richest man in Nigeria in 2007.

“You know the president is a socialist by orientation, and I can tell you that despite the complains of some people that the president is not moving at a fast pace to provide the dividends of democracy to Nigerians, the president, in fact, has been doing battle with some of his friends in industry and business circle to make the provision of basic needs of existence affordable for Nigerians.” The source revealed.

“I think it is on this point that the president and Dangote departed. The President wants Dangote to use his influence to do things that will impact the lives of Nigerians but I think Dangote’s business considerations did not conform to the president’s vision.”

Other sources in the political circuit confided that as a result of this fall out with the president, Dangote might have moved camp to the side of former vice president Atiku Abubakar.

“It’s like taking a strategic position for 2011 which for politicians is around the corner. Since Dangote lost favour with the President he has moved his support to Atiku, the thinking in political circle is that Atiku is going to run again in 2011 and since for top level business people influential links and connection to government is an important factor in their business survival, Dangote may have opted to back Atiku for 2011, at least, to be able to find his way back into the corridor of power.”

All efforts made to speak with Dangote’s spoke person were not successful.