Sunday 6 October 2013

Mr Gadget - BMW unveils third-generation X5 for 2014

Building on its current and highly successful formula, the 2014 BMW X5 Sports Activity Vehicle gets a significant remake as the line enters its third generation. In addition to more style, enhanced comfort/convenience/safety features and even better performance, this focused makeover also includes the introduction of the first-ever rear-drive X5 variant -- the sDrive35i -- which will join the existing all-wheel drive xDrive35i, xDrive35d and xDrive50i models.

Visually, the 2014 BMW X5 adds new edge to the exterior which can be most clearly seen in its recast fascia highlighted by bigger, bolder twin kidney grille elements that now stretch all the way to the restyled headlamps. Standard corner-following Adaptive Xenon main lights can be upgraded to full LED counterparts while LED foglamps appear on all models. This is the first BMW X model to get drag-reducing Air Curtains that help channel air around the wheel arches and out through equally new Air Breathers located in the rear portion of the front fenders. More dynamic character lines add interest to the X5's profile while its restyled rear quarters boast thinner 3-dimensional LED taillamps, a more aggressive exhaust/lower valance treatment and subtle new black Aero Blades that work with the roof spoiler to further enhance the X5's aerodynamic profile.

In addition to its basic spec, the 2014 BMW X5 will offer new xLine and Luxury Line trims as well as a more performance-oriented M Sport package. Like other BMW models, each features its own unique exterior and interior cosmetic/functional upgrades, including bespoke 19-inch standard and 20-inch optional alloy wheels. The 2014 X5's option roster also adds a pair of Interior Design Packages. The Ivory White group nets Ivory White Nappa Leather upholstery, an Atlas Grey leather dash and Fineline Oak Wood trim, while the Mocha alternative brings Mocha Brown Nappa Leather, a Black Nappa Leather dash and Fineline Pure Wood accentlng.

Inside, the 2014 X5's cabin continues to have seating for five with an optional third row that ups the count to seven. A bounty of new standards -- the latest version of BMW's iDrive controller with direct character recognition capability, BMW Navigation with a 10.2-inch control display monitor and Advanced Real-time Traffic, a full suite of BMW Apps, Mobile Office, heated seats, a panoramic moonroof, and BMW Assist eCall with a 10-year subscription -- add new charm to this spacious inner sanctum, as does its power tailgate that now can now be both opened and closed by remote control.

Optional kit for the 2014 X5 also has been enhanced with the addition of things like harman/kardon and Bang & Olufsen premium audio systems, a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment package, heated and fully adjustable second-row Comfort Seats, 4-zone climate control and an enhanced Head-Up Display. The extras roster also features the latest generations of BMW Parking Assistant and Night Vision, Active Blind Spot Detection, Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Lane Departure Warning, pedestrian and collision warning with braking function and Rear-View and Surround View camera systems.

Motivation for the 2014 BMW X5 comes in three forms. The standard engine in the sDrive35i/xDrive35i continues to be the familiar 3.0-liter/300-horsepower TwinPower Turbo inline-6 that also makes 300 lb-ft of torque. However, the 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbodiesel inline-6 in the xDrive35d is an all new engine that features a new variable-geometry turbocharger and produces 255 horses with 413 lb-ft of torque. The range-topping X5 xDrive50i gets an upgraded version of the 4.4-liter TwinPower twin-turbo V8 that adds BMW's Valvetronic variable valve timing to the mix. That change pops its pony count from 400 to 445 and moves peak torque from 450 to 480 lb-ft. All of the engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission with an efficiency enhancing ECO PRO mode which is expected to help each version generate slightly to significantly better EPA numbers -- although those figures won't be finalized for some time -- as well as improved 0-60 mph sprint times.

Exceptional handling has always been a hallmark of the X5, and this new iteration is set to further embellish that tradition. While nearly identical in size to the current X5, the 2014 benefits from a redesigned unit body that incorporates more high-strength steel to help trim a bit of curb weight while creating an even stiffer foundation. In addition to its more refined standard chassis tune and revamped multi-mode Driving Dynamics Control programming, the 2014 X5 will be the first to offer BMW's Dynamic Handling Package. Buyers of xDrive versions also can opt for the extra refinement of Dynamic Performance Control. An Adaptive M Suspension also will be on offer as part of the M Sport package.

The 2014 BMW X5 sDrive35i/xDrive35i, and xDrive 50i will be arriving in showrooms sometime during the fourth quarter, while the xDrive35d is set to turn up in early 2014. All will be manufactured at BMW's plant in Spartanburg, S.C. and pricing will be announced closer to their actual on-sale dates.

By Bob Nagy 

I thought my son will succeed me – Grieving Falae

A former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, has said he lost a political successor in his son, Deji, who died in the ill-fated Associated Airline on Thursday.

Deji, who was the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Ondo State, led the state government’s delegation to accompany the corpse of  former Ondo State governor, Chief Olusegun Agagu from Lagos to Akure, for the a state burial.

Falae, who was still grieving over the loss, told the visiting Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, that he had reached the peak of his political sojourn.

“I was looking forward to seeing Deji take over from me, because I have reached the peak of my being in politics. I will miss him so much,” he said.

He, however, noted that he would submit to God since he could not question God over the death of his son.
Tambuwal had visited the home of the chieftain to commiserate with him and his family over the Thursday plane crash.

Tambuwal said Deji was his friend and had sent useful text messages to him on how to move the country forward, four days before the unfortunate incident.

He prayed that God would grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
Some traditional rulers in Ondo State also paid a condolence visit to the politician in his Akure home in respect of the sad incident.

Falae, while receiving them, said his son had earned his place in the present Government of Ondo State.
According to him, in spite of his political stature, he never influenced Deji’s appointment as a commissioner.
He noted that his son had been a friend of Governor Mimiko and his appointment had nothing to do with his person.

The traditional rulers, led by Olukare of Ikare-Akoko, Oba Akadiri Momoh, encouraged Falae to have faith in God.
Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade, told our correspondent that the late commissioner had to go to Lagos follow the corpse down to Akure following the request by Agagu’s family that a senior member of the state government should accompany the corpse.

Meanwhile, Sunday punch gathered that the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Segun Mimiko, officially broke the news of Deji’s death to his father on Thursday.

Mimiko, who broke down in tears upon entering Falae’s house, was consoled by sympathisers.

Until his untimely death, Deji was the  Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Mimiko’s cabinet.


Word of Faith - Why do you go to Church?

Why do you go to Church?

There are so many reasons why people go to church. Some like the feeling/warmth they get, some like what they learn, some go there to serve and encourage others. Some say they get refreshed from the weekly services they attend, some are motivated to live more Christianly. Some say they live better and more purposeful lives the next/following week with a clearer, more God-focused perspective. Some look forward to Sunday services when they can feel their passion for God stirred again and understand more about how God wants them to live.
Lets consider these categories of people, and why they go to Church:
  • Those who go to church to live more Christianly during the week or to serve others through the church.
  • Parents who regard church as a partnership with youth workers and Sunday school teachers to keep their children out of trouble and into the faith.
  • Those who go to church to find their future partner or to meet with friends (to network) primarily.
  • Those who go to church because they are bored and need to find relief from an otherwise tedious existence.
  • Those who go because they need God to fulfill certain material and spiritual needs for them.
There is more to church than all these reasons/motives/explanations. Church is more than a weekly spiritual meal to nourish you for the week ahead, and more than a weekly place to serve others.
It is more than an opportunity to influence kids for Christ, it is more than social opportunities in a Christian atmosphere. It is also more than a spiritual distraction from boredom.
Does it then mean, that people will not go to church if they don’t have the needs mentioned above?
Ask yourself why you go to church.
Is the church, from the human perception and understanding the same as the church in God’s perception?

May be what we call church today might not be church after all.

PST Kunle Surakatu
Bond Servant of the Holy Spirit
Teacher | Pastor | Author

Sustainable banking in Nigeria: a strategy or a mindset?

Sustainable banking in Nigeria: a strategy or a mindset?


The Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles are a major step forward, but if sustainability is just a strategy - they may be easily abandoned


 A man works at an oil refinery site in Nigeria. The country's sustainable banking principles demand that banks consider environmental and social risks. Photograph: Akintunde Akinleye/REUTERS

On 24 September 24 2012, the Central Bank of Nigeria launched the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles. The adoption and implementation of these principles are compulsory and require Nigerian "banks, discount houses and development finance institutions to develop a management approach that balances the environmental and social risks identified with the opportunities to be exploited through their business activities".

This move by the Central Bank of Nigeria, spearheaded by the current governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi – which has been internationally applauded – appears to be the first of its kind globally. In its approach to promoting commitment to sustainability, it is an unusual mix of soft and hard governance.
Since its launch, there have been a series of initiatives and dynamism towards embedding sustainability in the Nigerian banking sector. The launch of the principles has created a new market for sustainability services (for example, training and consultancy) for both local and foreign players.
While the banks are warming up to embrace this new way of doing business, there is a seeming apprehension and scepticism about the sustainability of the principles themselves when the current governor leaves office. The main source of uncertainty, given the peculiarities of the Nigerian business environment, is a possible reversal of the principles if they are not pursued by subsequent Central Bank governors. In other words, sustainable banking in Nigeria could be abandoned. This uncertainty adds to the already narrow portrayal of the principles as principally risk management measures. Framed as such, commitment to sustainability becomes a risk management strategy, which becomes meaningless in the absence of risks.
In addition, there is a view, albeit marginal, that the sustainability agenda is a subtle ploy by western institutions to make emerging market firms (Nigerian banks included) uncompetitive. These views, no matter how far-fetched, tend to position commitment to sustainability as a strategy that could be dropped when the enabling conditions are no longer feasible. This is in sharp contrast to banks – eg the Global Alliance for Banking on Values and the B-corporation firms – that see commitment to sustainability primarily as a business philosophy, rather than merely a strategy to adapt to the spirit of the moment.

The attitude of the Nigerian banks towards the adoption of the principles is not new. The business community often speaks of commitment to sustainability as a strategy, a practice, or sets of activities. This view of sustainability is visually powerful and attractive. As a strategy, it can offer opportunities to manage risks, explore opportunities, and adapt to changing business contexts and expectations for long-term success. Appending strategy to sustainability, and the exploration of sustainability as a strategy, moves it away from being a fluffy business issue to a strategic objective.
However, what is often missing is the view that corporate commitment to sustainability is more than a strategy. It is first and foremost an organisational orientation committed to reducing its negative impacts and increasing its positive impacts on its different stakeholder groups (customers, shareholders, employees, regulators, the government, unions, local communities). It is about creating shared value – win-win outcomes for business and society. Framed as such, commitment to sustainability is a way of life – the how of "how we do business" – guided by the following principles:

 Sense of connectedness: the ability to see the whole picture and systems thinking

 Sense of fairness, justice and otherness: the ability to consciously and voluntarily minimise negative impacts and enhance positive impacts on others

 Innovation, creativity and change: the ability to discover and adapt to new ways

 Sense of transparency and accountability: the ability to minimise information asymmetry through openness and good governance.

In that regard, commitment to sustainability is not primarily a strategy, but a lens through which strategy is crafted and implemented. It is first a mindset before being a strategy; otherwise, a sustainability strategy is, at best, hollow and unsustainable.
However, for genuine commitment to sustainability to be successful, the larger society has to provide the enabling environment for it to thrive. For example, if a firm tries to reduce negative impacts, these efforts can be sustained only under certain conditions where there is a market for such improvements, NGOs help make standards visible, and governments have disclosure rules that make it uncompetitive for competitors to behave otherwise. In such an enabling environment, commitment to sustainability affords firms and managers the opportunity to adjust their practices for competitive advantage and long-term sustainability.
Unfortunately, the Nigerian business environment, like most developing country markets, is particularly characterised by poor governance and weak consumer voice, which will in turn have implications for the success or failure of the longevity of the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles. The launch of the principles is a major step forward. Even though more needs to be done to create an enabling environment for sustainability to thrive and bear meaningful fruit, the banks that are truly committed to sustainability will seek to create the change they desire, and not play victims of weak institutional context.
Dr Kenneth Amaeshi is the director of the Sustainable Business Initiative, and an associate professor in strategy and international business, at the Edinburgh University. Dr Chris Ogbechie is the director of the Etisalat Center for Corporate Social Responsibility, and a senior fellow in strategy and corporate governance, at the Lagos Business School.

£1bn a month: the spiralling cost of oil theft in Nigeria

It's a crime with international repercussions, and second only to the drugs trade for the money it earns. And it threatens to destabilise Africa's second-largest economy

                   Fishermen from Bodo on the Niger Delta. Photograph: Noah Payne-Frank for the Observer

The flames roared 20 metres above the Niger delta swamp for 48 hours; 6,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the creeks and waterways around the village of Bodo and several people died. But although the Nigerian army and navy were stationed just 100 metres from the site of the massive explosion, no one knows – or will say – what really happened to Nigeria's  most important oil pipeline around 2am on 19 June.

It could have been an accident. The Trans Niger pipeline, which transports around 150,000 barrels a day of crude oil from wells across the Niger delta through the creeks and impoverished villages of Ogoniland and Ogu-Bolo to the giant oil terminal at Bonney, is rusting, nearly 50 years old and known to spring leaks. But it is also one of the most sabotaged pipelines in the world with local communities accused by Shell of making over 20 attempts to tap oil from it in the last year.
Company contractors had been repairing one section of the pipeline when the explosion happened but the official investigation team believes that the accident followed a botched attempt to steal tens of thousands of barrels of crude oil. Even as one group of engineers was removing illegal taps on the line, another group is thought to have been installing equipment to allow huge amounts of oil to be siphoned straight into large barges where it would be taken out to sea to waiting tankers bound for Europe and the US.
"From the moment I got to the scene [the next day] I was suspicious," says Catholic priest Father Obi, appointed by Shell to be an official observer for the Bodo investigation. "The scene had been hurriedly deserted. Shell must have known what was going on. The military must have known. Everyone knew there was complicity. I am personally sure that Shell knew that its oil was being stolen. If the managers did not know, then those who they put in charge [of the operation]seemed to know. This [theft] could not have happened without the collusion of the authorities and the military." Obi is concerned that the official report has still not been published and is threatening to release his own.
It all adds up to organised crime stealing oil using the cover of the authorities, he says. "Why was a massive barge able to hold 10,000 barrels of oil being loaded at 2am with crude? Why did another catch fire? Why were excavators there? Why were local observers arrested the next day, their cameras confiscated and memory cards destroyed? Were the thieves being protected by the military? Was the company paying workers to clean up oil spilled in the process of theft they themselves were engaged in? Did Shell know its oil was being stolen from under its nose?" he asks.
In a statement, Shell accepted its oil was being stolen when the accident happened but strongly denied any collusion or knowledge of who might be responsible. Shell Nigeria's managing director, Mutiu Sunmonu, said: "Unknown persons continued to reconnect illegal bunkering hoses at Bodo West even as our pipeline team were removing crude theft points." But the company has yet to make public its own investigation.
"We are not aware of any direct involvement [in the Bodo explosion] but we would take legal action if anything was discovered," adds a spokesman for the company in Port Harcourt.
"One has to understand there is this accusation that the oil industry employees are behind this, but there are thousands of people who have the skills who may have been working with the industry over the years. These people are outside and some of them may be for hire. There is a sophisticated organisation, clearly it is not just local. There has to be a wide network," says Philip Mshelbila, head of Shell communications in Lagos.
The Bodo explosion is significant because it shows how oil theft in Nigeria has reached an industrial scale. It is now undermining Africa's second-biggest economy and ranks with the drugs trade as the most lucrative crime in the world.
According to President Goodluck Jonathan, 300,000-400,000 barrels of oil per day, or more than 10% of all Nigeria's production, is being lost at a cost to the state and oil companies of around £1bn a month – more than is spent on education and the health of the nation's 168 million people. Not only is Nigerian oil theft helping to keep the world price of oil high, it is causing corruption and social disorder, says the president.
"The figures are huge. [Oil theft]could destabilise Nigeria. The business is worth billions of dollars a year. It is on an industrial scale, and involves commodity traders, international [criminals] and a whole network of people. There are some allegations that the oil companies themselves are implicated," says presidential aide Ken Saro-Wiwa, whose father, along with other Ogoni chiefs, was executed in 1995 after a peaceful protest against Shell.
Mshelbila says: "We are losing 60,000-80,000 barrels of oil a day. This is just what we know is stolen from the trunk lines. We have to shut down lines, so, taken together it's probably 300,000-400,000 barrels a day. We are seeing more illegal connections, more frequent shutdowns than one year ago."
According to a report from the foreign affairs thinktank Chatham House, oil is being stolen not just from pipelines but from tank farms, export terminals, refinery storage tanks, jetties, ports, pipelines, and wellheads. "Officials and private actors disguise theft through manipulation of meters and shipping documents. Proceeds are laundered through world financial centres and used to buy assets in and outside Nigeria, polluting markets and financial institutions overseas, and creating reputational, political and legal hazards," it says.
Much of the stolen oil is exported to foreign refineries or storage facilities, says the report, including buyers in West Africa, the US, Brazil, China, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Balkans. The proceeds appear to be laundered through banks and other channels in various African countries, Dubai, Indonesia, India, Singapore, the US, the UK, and Switzerland.
The scale of the "bunkering" has shocked observers. Thirty centimetre pipelines able to transport thousands of barrels of oil a day have been found leading straight from pipelines into the swamps. The Nigerian navy had to sack two admirals for their role in the disappearance of a tanker that had been seized for transporting 11,000 tonnes of stolen crude.
"A lot of big-time stealing goes on. You know the oil you are offered is stolen," says one oil trader in Port Harcourt who asks to remain anonymous. "They give it to you without documents at a cheaper rate. I was offered 50,000 litres today for 55 naira (20p) a litre. But 75 nairais the cheapest you can get it from the government. You know it's a racket. There is no chance of getting caught because there is no system to catch people. Big business is big politics."
He alleges that the Nigerian military has become deeply implicated in oil theft since an amnesty was declared with militants two years ago. "The military now control the oil platforms, not the militants. People now have to buy oil directly from the military. The military is a chain of command, so I can only assume this goes to the very top. Oil theft used to be about people breaking into pipes. That is not happening any more. If I want to load 200 tonnes of crude, I would have to pay for a lot of security. It is far easier to go straight to the military."
Most of the oil is being stolen by the rich, he says. "It is dishonest for government and the oil companies to blame the poor for stealing the oil. The people in the communities are just the foot soldiers. Clearly this is a sophisticated organisation. Where do people get vessels, the money for bribes and security? It costs millions. What the poor take is very small. The racket goes deep into the security and political systems. Tens of thousands of tonnes of oil is being spirited away every week. All the authorities are involved – the oil companies, the military, the politicians. There's plenty of money to be made so everyone is in it."
Research by delta non-government group Stakeholder Democracy Now(SDN) estimates that 75% of the stolen oil is being exported with the rest being refined in illegal "artisanal refineries". More than 500 of these are known to have been set up in the last five years, taking stolen crude and refining it into a rough diesel for local sale.
According to SDN, a medium-sized illegal refinery costs around £3,000 to set up but can earn that back in a few weeks. But the operators need to pay hefty bribes to the police and military, as well as to buy oil tapped off the 1,600km of pipelines that cross the delta. Each tapping point, says SDN, can earn more than £500,000 a month but its investors must pay armed guards, the military, contractors, local communities and even oil company staff.
Delta communities freely admit their role in the theft of oil but blame continuing poverty and pollution for their actions. "The government and oil companies are collecting our oil and we don't have jobs, or money so we have to collect the oil and refine our own," says a man in the village of Bolo near where an illegal refinery was set up five years ago.
Bolo leaders admit that the military was paid off. "When the refinery was working it used to refine around 10,000 litres of oil a day. It could only operate with the help of the police and military, The pay-off system to the armed forces and police was well organised. It was a plum posting for the military here. Most army have a lifestyle that you cannot explain," says Mela Oforibika, a lawyer and chief of the Bolo community.
"This place was booming. Every house was rented out. Thirty people had jobs. Young men came in who knew the art of distillation. What moral right did I have to stop them? It brought us money. The bars were full, the economy benefited."
But the pollution from the illegal refineries was extreme because no one knew how to safely dispose of the waste residues from the diesel-making process. The Bolo refinery on the small island of Odokian was raided by the military five months ago, possibly because the consortium who owned it refused to pay the authorities for protection.
Today, the four-acre site stinks of oil and may never recover. It is saturated with waste oil, the palm trees are blackened by fire and there are no fish in the waterways. Rusting pipes, burned-out oil drums and old metal tanks litter several acres of what was lush farmland.
Community chiefs blame the oil companies and government for the pollution rather than the refiners. "There's a heavy level of unemployment here. People knew what was happening to the environment, but what is the alternative for the young men? The illegal refineries were set up as a direct result of the wickedness of Shell and the oil companies who polluted the waterways and never compensated us. The refineries have been destroyed but they will come back. How long can you keep armies to police these communities? We would never have allowed these [refineries] to come into our area if we had been properly compensated before," says Boma Ipiurima Asitonka, a Bolo teacher.
"You cannot abandon people like this. If there was work here, no one would have made this pollution," says Oisiekel Tubomie, chief of Bolo youth council.
The only solution to oil theft is to give people a stake in the oil, say the chiefs. "We propose that the government sets up and licenses legal, mini-refineries in dozens of villages and sells them oil at cost price so they can profit, provide jobs and diesel for the communities. It would destroy the criminality and end the pollution," says Oforibika. But this is not an option for the oil companies, who must operate in an increasingly volatile environment bristling with guns. Shell plans to spend £1bn building a new, more secure loop for the Trans Niger pipeline to bypass Ogoniland and areas where its present one is regularly sabotaged.
"If the government and the oil companies spent a fraction of what they lose to theft on developing the delta communities, they would not have these problems of theft. As it stands, the oil industry is run by a very small elite for a very few people. If nothing changes, the future here is bleak," says Oforibika.

 in Port Harcourt - The Guardian

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