In this report, PAUL OGBUOKIRI, ABDULWAHAB ISAH and TUNDE OYESINA x-ray the new AMCON (amendment) Act, 2019 signed recently by President Muhammadu Buhari and conclude that it conflicts with the 1999 Constitution and its enforcement will hamper recovery of the N5 trillion debt owed by some bank customers
The AMCON (Amendment) Act
Against the backdrop of the recent signing of the AMCON (Amendment ) Act by President Muhammadu Buhari, indication are that the Bad Bank in collaboration with the security agencies will soon go full blast to in ensuring that it collects to the last kobo the about N5 trillion debt some bank customers are owing to it.
According to the Spokesman of AMCON, Jude Nwauzor, the agency is empowered by a provision in the amended law to trace any debtor accounts to banks.
He stated that the new law mandates the agency to go after the assets of the debtor until the debt is liquidated.
Mr. Nwauzo who spoke to Sunday Telegraph on phone on Wednesday, said: “The signing of the amended Act is with immediate effect. It has started immediately; there is no wasting of time. Before the Act we have been doing asset profiling of some of our obligors. A lot of them are concealing their assets from us. Both laws, the new one amended and the old one before the amendment gave us the power to seize asset, what we call asset striping, so you can strip both within and outside the country “.
He further said that the amended Act also allows AMCON to go after the debtors funds in banks. “Of course, they are all inclusive, if any of our obligor have assets, have huge sums of money in any bank, it is part of what we can trace. Of course with BVN you can trace such deposits in banks wherever they are”.
Many hurdles to cross
Reacting to the new law, Constitutional Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) on Friday said that giving AMCON access to fund in other accounts of debtors to offset loans owed is unconstitutional.
He said: “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered, is the grundnorm of all other laws of Nigeria, including the said AMCON (Amendment) Act, 2019 and by implication, every law must find its origin in the Constitution.
“The Constitution is also the supreme law of the land as highlighted in section 1(1) which provides:
1. (1) This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on the authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Sub-section 3 of the above mentioned section 1 also provides that:
(3) If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.
“Important to note that many of the provisions of the AMCON (Amendment) Act, 2019, which empowers the agency to gain access into the personal accounts of individuals (debtors), access his\her personal details and even take possession of funds in those accounts autonomously are inconsistent and run at parallel with sections 37 and 44 of the Constitution which seeks to protect the privacy of citizens and deter compulsory acquisition of their movable and immovable property by any agency, without adequate compensation.
“It is against the rule of law and is also unconstitutional that an agency could be empowered to arbitrarily access and possess the funds in a debtor’s personal account without first securing an appropriate order of a Court of law.
“Section 50 (1) of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Act, 2010, is certainly unconstitutional. The section provides that:
“Where the Corporation has reasonable cause to believe that a debtor or debtor company has funds in any account with any eligible financial institution, it may apply to the Court by motion ex-parte for an order freezing the debtor or Debtor Company’s account.
“The above section together with section 50(2) which provides that the Corporation shall commence debt recovery action against a debtor or debtor company whose account has been frozen by a Court order issued under subsection (1) of this section within 14 days from the date of the order, failing which the order shall lapse, appear self-contradictory and self-destructive.
“How do you first freeze a customer’s account and then proceed to recover your debt? The customer is placed at a grave disadvantage as he cannot reasonably fight his case and cause.”
He, however, said that the old AMCON Act of 2010 which was created for the purpose of effectively resolving non-performing loans, assets of banks and other institutions in Nigeria, was never the problem or the reason why the agency failed woefully in recovering the humongous debts of over N5 trillion. “Rather, it was the failure of the agency to act swiftly to commence the debt recovery after securing an interim order freezing the debtor’s accounts. They should now act with more speed.
“To continue on the path of the new AMCON (Amendment) Act, 2019, is to cause more chaos, especially when the fund in the account of the debtor happens to be subject of another court proceeding,” he stressed.
Also speaking, Principal Partner of Charlse Iroh and Associates, Chief Charlse Iro, said that the new cannot be applied in isolation. “It does render ultra vires other existing laws on business ownership and operation in the country. There are laws the guide banking in the country and the relationship of the bank and its customers. So I see this new law being tested in court soon, good as its intendments.”
He further warned that it will not be in the best interest of the country to use extra-judicial means in the name of enforcing the new law which its provision is in conflict with the Constitution.
Speaking, Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) Eze Onyekpere , a lawyer with specialisation in development law, reforms, fiscal governance, human rights and constitutional reforms with tremendous experience in the area of public expenditure management reforms said that the contract entered by a client with bank is a confidential pact that must be respected , just as he said debtors have an obligation to settle debt owe.
“It is imperative to state that debtors should pay their debts. However, the agreement of a customer with one bank is a separate contract from another banking transaction with another bank. It is wrong and deposits in bank A should not be used to offset debts in bank B. This should only be the case when there is a court order,” he said.
Also speaking, Prof. Ken Ife, Lead Consultant on Private Sector Development to the ECOWAS Commission and Co-Chair of EU – AFRICA Business Task Force Summit Group cited the subsisting judgment of the Supreme Court, a judgment he said counters potency of revised AMCON Act.
“You know there is a Supreme Court judgment which is easily cited by different lawyers in the banking sector. The Supreme Court judgment says: If Mr. A has two accounts with you- account B and account C, and is owning you on one account, the Supreme Court judgment does not allow bank A to come and enter in to account B and pick money there because it owe in account C. That subsisting Supreme Court judgment is a case law which can only be vacated by only the Supreme Court itself.”
Enforcing the law
As the Spokesman of AMCON, Jude Nwauzor has insisted that the amended Act has come to stay and has taken effect, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has vowed to assist AMCON to recover all the monies owed by individuals and business entities in Nigeria.
The acting spokesman of the EFCC, Tony Orilade in a statement quoted Magu as saying last Wednesday: “We are ready to work with you, and we will render assistance in terms of enforcement, in order to recover these loans, because they are affecting the economy of the country from flourishing.
“In order to recover these loans, there is the need for inter-agency collaboration, going beyond the EFCC to the police, the court, Central Bank of Nigeria, NDIC, because there is a need for AMCON to re-strategise and block loopholes.”
Taskforce on recovery of N5 trillion debt
On July 31, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo set up a task force with a mandate to devise a strategy to recover the N5 trillion owed to the corporation.
The agencies tasked to go after the debtors are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the ministry of justice.
Muiz Banire, AMCON’s chairman, had said 20 individuals and companies owe 67 per cent of the N5 trillion debt.
Ita Enang, aide of the president on national assembly matters, said the signed law, empowers the corporation to access the financial details of any of its debtors.
He said the law mandates AMCON to: “Obtain access to any computer system component, electronic or mechanical device of any debtor with a view to establishing the location of funds belonging to the debtor, and to obtain information in respect of any private account together with all bank financial and commercial records of any debtor of any eligible financial institution, banking secrecy, and the protection of customer confidentiality is not a ground for the denial of the power of the corporation under this section.’’
However, as analysts have said the move to recover the N5 trillion debts, saying however that at the end of the day, matter will go to the court to seek legal redress and due to the country’s slow judicial process, the cases could be in court many years.
Interestingly, while the move to seize the AMCON debtors’ deposits in the banking system has been widely commended by stakeholders, there are concerns in some quarters that well know predator borrowers would use the judicial process to prevent their deposits in other banks and investments from being used to settle their indebtedness to AMCON.
It is also worthy to note that the new AMCON Act would easy to enforce as the new CBN policy on recovery debts from banks debtors because the success of the CBN policy would be due to the fact that customers would be made to sign the agreement with the banks before they will given the loan.
NSE records N20bn midweek decline
Trading activities on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange yesterday witnessed another drop in share prices as bears sustained their grip on the local bourse following the sell- off that have pervaded the stock market.
The local bourse recorded 13 gainers against 11 losers.
Consequently, the All-Share Index dipped 41.45 basis points or 0.16 per cent to close at 26,47.20 index points as against 26.513.65 recorded the previous day while market capitalisation of equities depreciated by N20 billion from N12.906 trillion the previous day to N12.886 trillion as market sentiment remained on the negative territory.
Meanwhile, a turnover of 138 million shares exchanged in 2,487 deals was recorded in the day’s trading.
The premium sub-sector was the most active (measured by turnover volume); with 51.6 million shares exchanged by investors in 847 deals.
Volume in the sub-sector was largely driven by activities in the shares of Access Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.
Also, the banking sub-sector boosted by the activities in the shares of Sterling Bank Plc and GTBank Plc followed with a turnover of 12.9 million shares in 409 deals.
Further analysis of the day’s trading showed that in percentage terms Law Union and Rock Insurance Plc topped the day’s gainers’ table with 9.09 per cent to close at 48 kobo per share while Livestock Feeds Nigeria Plc followed with 6.38 per cent to close at 50 kobo per share. Courtville Business Solutions Plc added five per cent to close at 21 kobo per share.
On the flip side, Wapic Insurance Plc led the losers with a drop of 8.57 per cent to close at 32 kobo per share while Chams Plc shed 8.33 per cent to close at 22 kobo per share. Sterling Bank Plc trailed with 7.69 per cent to close at N1.80 per share.
NSE lauds ASHON on professionalism
The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has commended the Association of Securities Dealing Houses of Nigeria (ASHON) for upholding professionalism in handling capital market issues.
The exchange, which commended ASHON’s efforts in ensuring success of the on-going demutualisation of the market for enhanced competitiveness, is seeking more collaboration with the professional body at post-demutualization.
Addressing the executive members of ASHON during their courtesy visit to the exchange to ring the closing bell and sensitize members towards its annual general meeting, the exchange’s Executive Director, Regulation, Ms. Tinuade Awe, explained that ASHON had always collaborated in all areas of market development.
Awe, who represented the exchange’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Oscar Onyema, lauded ASHON for its dynamic leadership and the association’s efforts at broadening the market. She lauded the association’s collaborative roles towards the success of the ongoing demutualization of the market.
Presenting the symbolic gong to the association through its Chairman, Chief Patrick Ezeagu, for future reminder of the historic visit, Awe urged the members to keep supporting the exchange for the overall development of the market.
Responding, Ezeagu expressed the members’ optimism in the exchange’s management and assured the regulatory body of continued support to ensure the success of demutualization project. He stated that ASHON had commenced rebranding of its operations and processes to enable its members sustain their businesses after demutualization.
Ezeagu, who described ASHON’s visit and beating the closing gong as the first of its type by any council, urged its members to attend the AGM and come up with relevant suggestions to move the market forward.
The doyen of the day, Mr Sam Ndata, who spoke on behalf of the stockbrokers, eulogized the vision of the founding fathers of the association for their foresight and congratulated the current executive members for keeping the flag flying.
ASHON had at a different occasions made strong statements on the state of the market, particularly, before the last general election, when Ezeagu and the Second Vice President, Mr Sam, cautioned the political class against unguarded statements that placed the market on the watch list of uncertainty by indigenous and foreign investors.
GTBank posts N147bn Q3’19 PAT
Guaranty Trust Bank Plc has reported profit after tax of N147.989 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2019 as against N142.224 billion reported the previous year, accounting for a growth of 3.4 per cent.
The group also posted a profit before tax of N170.652 billion, represented a growth of 3.9 per cent over N164.246 billion recorded in the corresponding period of September 2018.
A further review of the results released to the Nigerian and London Stock Exchanges showed the group’s gross earnings for the period declined by 3.3 per cent to N326.0342 billion from N337.270 billion reported a year earlier.
The bank’s half year result had showed positive growth across key financial metrics and reflects GTBank’s leading position as one of the best managed financial institutions in Africa.
The bank reported a profit before tax of N115.8 billion, representing a growth of 5.6 per cent over N109.6 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2018. The Bank’s loan book grew by 1.0 per cent from N1.262 trillion recorded as at December 2018 to N1.274 trillion in June 2019 and customer deposits increased by 6.3 per cent to N2.418 trillion from N2.274 trillion in December 2018.
The bank closed the half year ended June 2019 with total Assets of N3.598 trillion and Shareholders’ Funds of N603.0 billion. In terms of Asset quality, NPL ratio and Cost of Risk improved to 6.8 per cent and 0.2 per cent in June 2019 from 7.3 per cent and 0.3 per cent in December 2018 respectively. Overall, asset quality remains stable with adequate coverage of 84.7 per cent, while Capital remains strong with CAR of 23.5 per cent. On the backdrop of this result, Return on Equity (ROAE) and Return on Assets (ROAA) stood at 33.7 per cent and 5.8 per cent respectively. The Bank is proposing an interim dividend of 30 kobo per ordinary share of 50 kobo each for period ended June 30, 2019.
Commenting on the financial results, the Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Segun Agbaje, said: “We have delivered a good result inspite of a challenging market, characterized by varying degrees of uncertainty and a rapidly changing competitive landscape. Our strong financial performance is underpinned by our unwavering focus on delivering value for our shareholders and reimagining the role we play in our customers’ lives.
“In a rapidly changing world and increasingly unpredictable environment, we are committed to building a long-term business that is both nimble and focused on flawless execution. The progress that we have made over the past six months demonstrates that we have the right strategy and the dedicated team to deliver for all our stakeholders, even in difficult conditions.”
‘Solutions for Africa’s challenges lie with Africans’
A former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, has said that the hope of Africa lies with Africans.
He said that notwithstanding challenges facing the continent, the potential was enormous, which if harnessed surpasses the challenges.
The former deputy governor spoke in Abuja ahead of the first session of African Economic Congress (AEC) slated for Abuja between November 4 and 6, 2019.
No fewer than 50 participants across Africa countries, including Nigeria’s Vice- President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajom, are expected at the event.
Chief Executive Officer, AEC, Mrs. Nancy Nnaji, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja, said the conference theme: “Building the Africa we want,” would focus on strategic ramifications of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) and its future impact on cooperation and industrial revolution of the continent.
According to her, “the congress will contribute to this debate by explaining and promoting its priorities and policy actions to address challenges in areas like trade and investment, agriculture, economic policy, climate change and energy.”
Central banks predict dollar dominance for more years
Foreign-exchange reserve managers at central banks around the globe expect the dollar to remain dominant for at least another quarter-century, Bloomberg reported yesterday.
Roughly 66per cent of managers believe the greenback will remain the reserve currency of choice over the next 25 years, according to a UBS Asset Management survey of 30 central banks. The U.S. currency accounts for about 62per cent of global central banks’ $11.7 trillion foreign-exchange reserves, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said last month.
The finding comes as questions emerge over the state of the so-called strong dollar policy and countries like Russia vocally diversify out of the greenback. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney railed against the dollar’s hegemony in August, bemoaning the currency’s “domineering influence” on trade. But still, the dollar is “the ultimate safe-haven currency,” according to UBS.
FirstBank pledges sustained collaboration with fintech
First Bank of Nigeria Limited has said it will continue to collaborate with financial technology (finTech) as technology is key to ensuring efficient service delivery in the banking industry.
The bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, stated this at the third edition of the lender’s annual Fintech Summit held in Lagos yesterday.
The FirstBank boss noted that the Tier 1 lender, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in March this year, had been able to maintain its leadership position in the industry by effectively leveraging technology to continually offer innovative product solutions.
According to him, the theme of this year’s summit, “Banking + Tech = Solving Real Problems,” reflects the reality that technology can be applied to add value in all spheres of life. He pointed out that despite the remarkable progress recorded by Nigerian banks through the use technology, there is still a lot to be done in that regard.
In his presentation at the event, First Bank’s Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Product, Mr. Chuma Ezirim, revealed that the bank now had over 18 million customers’ accounts.
Ezirim, whose presentation was entitled, “Digital Financial Services – The Nigeria Market Size,” told the gathering that the bank processed over 500,000 transactions worth N23 billion daily.
He said that 8.5 million customers were on the bank’s USSD channels, noting that FirstBank would continue to maintain its leadership in product and service delivery.
Ezirim said that FirstBank had issued over 10 million cards, representing about 25 per cent of card transactions processed in the country.
He noted that the country’s mobile application size stood at 13 million, agent banking 41 million and USSD 35 million.
According to him, the bank will continue to leverage technology in service delivery to boost financial inclusion, to achieve 95 per cent target by 2020.
Ezirim said that FirstBank would continue to make banking easier for its customers, and ensure they had access to financial services at the comfort of their homes.
He said that the bank would continue to expand its products and services to ensure presence in every nook and cranny of the country.
The bank, according to him, has dominant presence in the 754 local governments in the 36 states, with a target to be in all
BPE revenue generation base hits N150 bn
The Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Mr Alex Okoh, yesterday disclosed that the agency’s revenue generation base for the Federal Government was N150 billion at current quarter.
Okoh disclosed this at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, during a meeting with members of Senate Committee on Privatisation.
He stated this while responding to questions from members of the committee on the operations of BPE, saying that the current revenue base was achieved following recent sale of some power assets belonging to the Federal Government.
He listed the assets to include Afam Power Plant, Yola DisCo and government’s share in Geregu Power Plant Plc.
According to him, N105 billion was realised from the sale of Afam, N19.7 billion from the re-privatisation of Yola DisCo.
He said N14 billion was also raised from the sale of additional 25 per cent government share of Geregu power plant, noting that BPE was consistently generating N200 billion yearly for government.
However, he expressed concerns that BPE get a paltery N2 billion allocation for the 2020 fiscal year.
“It is out of place that as an agency of government that consistently generates N200 billion every year for government, only has N2billion as budgetary allocation.
“From the allocation N1.5billion is for personal expenses, which is paid directly through IPPIS to the various staff for their salaries and emolument.
“Then N500 million, that is meant to be for overheads and capital projects, we have never had good released up to 15 per cent to us, it is like bringing out water out of the rock.
“That is not the faith of similar revenue generation agencies, so we will need the support of the committee to help look at the funding framework of BPE, it is not encouraging and not sustainable.’’
Okoh stated that out of the 600 businesses that were previously owned by government, the ones that are still under the management of government were not performing creditably.
He identified the challenge of budgetary provision as major issue confronting the BPE.
“Another challenge is the resistance from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) that we supervise; they find it very difficult and reluctant to release these enterprises for privatising or commercialization for some obvious reasons.
He said that there were some bills awaiting passage in the National Assembly, noting the passage of the bills would help the bureau’s sectoral reform activity.
Climate change: IMF proposes green energy infrastructure
To mitigate the effect of climate change in Africa, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Nigeria and other countries in the continent to adopt a mixed approach to infrastructure projects.
Speaking yesterday during a press conference on Global Fiscal Monitor at the on-going World Bank/IMF annual meetings in Washington DC, the Deputy Director of the Fund’s Fiscal Affairs Department, Paolo Mauro, said African countries must choose the type of infrastructure that will have implications for decades.
According to him, with the number in the Fiscal Monitor, insinuations that emissions into the ozone layer are largely coming from Africa may not be right.
He said: “The African continent is very exposed to the effects of climate change. On the other hand, it is not yet a contributor. When you look at some of the numbers in Fiscal Monitor, the emissions are not really coming much from Africa. That may be the case later on in this century, but not yet.
“There are important decisions to be made today for which kinds of infrastructure is the continent going to choose. And decisions that are made today will have implications for decades to come.
“So, it is important that as African countries choose the mix of infrastructure projects, they choose green types of energy and in the transportation area, again, they can maybe choose rail as opposed to roads.”
On revenue from natural resources, the IMF said global prices of oil, gas and others had major implications for whether some countries are able to develop new fields, adding that future revenues are impacted by the developments of global prices in oil.
Population growth as panacea for development
The two-day economic summit of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), the annual policy dialogue between private sector players and public officials, ended last week in Abuja where stakeholders expressed concern about the looming 400 million Nigeria’s populations by 2050 and how to convert same into asset, Abdulwahab Isa recounts
The year 2050 is 31 years away from 2019. Between now and then, experts predict that Nigeria’s burgeoning population could hit about 400 million; making it the third most populous country after China and India.
Huge population isn’t entirely a disadvantage. Like a coin with two split sides, huge population could be an asset to a country that guarantees quality education to her citizens, give premium attention to improved infrastructure such as good road network, uninterrupted power; improved health services and every item that scales up citizens’ living standard.
Regrettably, Nigeria is off these marks. Blessed with a huge population, Nigeria ranks among poor nations when measured by indices of a developed nation.
Lately, anticipated population size of about 400 million by 2050 has opened a fresh chapter, with experts projecting that an additional 200 million population will deepen an already sinking poverty level. A population of 400 million size is a huge liability, which requires earnest work to avert its crippling effects.
To give up portends massive economic disaster lurking to happen. The Nigerian Economic Summit 2019 edition organized by Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) was conceptualised to lay the foundation for tackling socio- economic dislocations for 31 years journey into 2050.
The 2019 policy dialogue between private and public sector, themed: “NES 2019: “Shifting Gears,” examined in details, every sector with a view to diagnosing what ails it, challenges that stifle its growth while experts espouse solutions to fix them.
Bumpy road to 2050
NESG has kept faith with the policy dialogue for unbroken 25 years. Beneath the silver jubilee celebration package that the 2019 edition represented, the session unearthed the rough road Nigeria is primed to get to 2050 destination point.
NESG Chairman, Mr. Asue A.Ighodalo, in his opening remarks at NES 2019, explicitly painted a rough, long road to 2050 characterized with series of layers.
According to him, “aside the global shifts that demand our attention, our country is also changing internally. Despite rising poverty rates, our population growth continues at a trajectory that should be cause for concern and decisive policy measures. United Nations projection that Nigeria’s population will double by the Year 2050 to 410 million, and we will become the third most populous nation in the world behind China and India. Basically, the population is projected to grow by a little over three per cent per annum. If true and it does not seem unrealistic, GDP must grow by at least that much, year on year, for us to just maintain our current GDP per capita – this is without accounting for inflation. Clearly, we do not have that luxury.
“Our current GDP per capita, even at zero inflation, on its own, and more so when we factor in wealth distribution disparities, is not a metric we can afford to have stand still. We at the NESG are convinced that only consistent and inclusive economic growth, underpinned by a competitive, private sector-led, productive economy can move us toward real progress. By 2050, majority of the country’s projected 400+ million people will be under the age of 35.
“We therefore need to confront our realities and craft a new national agenda that will proactively and urgently drive inclusive double-digit growth and development, over the next three decades. It sounds daunting, but it is not impossible. It has been done before; by others in situations similar to ours, but never by accident.”
All the participants, including Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who for the first time, discountenanced other official matters to attend NES 25, admitted the road to 2050 was bumby. He, nonetheless, assured that Nigeria coulds navigate through 2050 murky waters given her human resources.
On the focus of this year’s economic summit, which is discussing what Nigeria would be in the year 2050 when many studies estimate the country’s population will rise to over 400 million people, the President said: “As a government, our view is to equip our citizens with the means to seize any opportunities that may arise. This means we continue investments in education, healthcare, infrastructure, security and strengthen and entrench the rule of law.’’
Taming population size, prioritising girl child education
Some of the panelists included Founder of the Kukah Centre, Bishop Mathew Kukah, Emir of Kano, Mohammadu Sanusi (II), Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and CEO, Jumia Nigeria, Mrs. Juliet Anammah.
These eminent Nigerians x- rayed complexity of Nigeria coping in the event of anticipated 400 million population size, and the vital role an affordable quality education, with emphasis on girl child education could have on reducing poverty rate.
Emir of Kano, Mohammadu Sanusi (II) punctuated a notion that Nigeria’s huge population is asset. He said, it was a liability, and pegged the bad vices ravaging the country to huge, uneducated population.
“The huge population is clearly a liability. All the issues you have, Boko- Harram, drug addiction, youth unemployment, kidnapping all tied to huge population. People say that our population is an asset but we are yet to get there. Nigeria’s population is currently a liability because most of the root cause of problems such as kidnapping, armed robberies, Boko Haram, drug addiction are all tied to the population that we have and the question is how you turn that into a productive one.
“This population problem is perhaps the most important developmental challenge we have to face. If we don’t have a demographic transition, we will never have economic transition,” he said.
The former CBN governor said girl child education should be given priority, saying “if we don’t give them good, quality education, it will be a huge crisis for us. Some people are deluded with hope. It’s time to move from hope to reality.”
Father Kukah aligned his position with the former CBN governor, saying population growth of other countries afforded them the opportunity to boost economic output.
According to him, “everything that becomes an opportunity in other countries is a liability to Nigeria. I don’t want to speculate how other nations have turned population into positive. Is either that there is something in Nigerian that makes it impossible for us, the lack of capacity and the sense of opportunities.”
For Anammah, she identified access to quality education as key to managing huge population for productive economy.
“We need policies that support micro industries. We have millions of people that are under employed today. How do we tackle it?”
Providing unemployed youths with enabled internet smart phone, she opined is one infrastructure that could take millions out of unemployment.
Also contributing, Fayemi noted that states were not in charge of their education curriculum, a development he said made states handicap in the area of developing suitable curriculum.
Creating an enabling environment for industries to thrive is the surest way to grow the economy, and get majority of Nigerians employed.
President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, represented at the summit by Executive Director, Government and Stakeholder Relations, Ahmed Mansur, put this point forward at the first plenary session titled: “Competing with Giants.”
Mansur said private sector was key to the much touted industrial revolution, adding that his conglomerate was leading Nigeria into a new epoch through massive investment in the manufacturing sector and skill development.
Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council, Dr Doyin Salami, admonished Federal Government to get out of business and allow the private sector drive it. He also said that since the Federal Government was wooing the private sector to take risks and invest in the economy, it must be willing to mitigate the risks businesses face.
Chairman of First Bank Plc, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, said an emergency on the education sector must be declared, stressing that more than 70 per cent of Nigerian students were studying courses they are not interested in but are forced on them.
As with NES tradition, NESG recommendations, outcome of dialogue will be presented to the president via established channel, usually through the Minister of Finance.
The onus lies on Federal Government to take the recommendations seriously by committing them into policies for implementation. The earlier the government officials start by taking measures that will shift gears for a smooth ride to 2050 destination the better it will be for all.
Giving force to Nigeria’s data protection regulation
Nigeria recently took a cue from the European GDPR by coming up with a data protection regulation. However, while the GDPR is a law binding on all handlers of European citizens’ data, Nigeria’s remains a regulation, which enforcement is at the discretion of the country’s ICT regulatory agency. SAMSON AKINTARO reports
Prior to its recent red flag against mobile app platform, Truecaller, Nigeria’s ICT regulator, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) had said it was investigating some banks and telecommunications operators in the country over possibility of flouting its data protection rule.
This was the regulator’s attempt to warn data handlers in the country that it was no longer business as usual as the country now has data protection regulation.
The NDPR was introduced in January this year to address the lacuna that existed in the country regarding data protection. While the National Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) is fashioned after the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), stakeholders are worried that Nigeria may not achieve much with the regulation except with dogged enforcement.
Key Provisions of NDPR
The regulation, which is binding on all entities handling Nigerians’ data “provides that personal data shall be collected and processed in accordance with specific, legitimate and lawful purpose consented to by the Data Subject.”
Article of the regulation mandates the data controller to expressly inform the Data Subject of the purpose(s) of the processing for which the Personal Data are intended as well as the legal basis for the processing. Data controllers are also expected to collect the minimum required data and avoid unnecessary surplus age. “Data that is not useful for the Controller ought not to be collected. No data shall be obtained except the specific purpose of collection is made known to the Data Subject. This principle relates also to the principle on purpose of collection.”
On enforcement, the NDPR classified Controllers into large and small categories. Those who process data of more than 10,000 data subjects are liable to forfeit two per cent of their Annual Gross Revenue (AGR) while those handling less than 10,000, would lose up to one per cent of their AGR.
With the regulation coming into force April 2019, NITDA had on two occasions raised the alarm over some organisations’ non-compliance. While there is yet no sanction against any organisation for breach, the agency had threatened punitive measures, noting that some organisations were already under investigation.
Earlier in August, the agency said it was investigating some telecom operators, banks and fintech operators over allegation of breach of the country’s data protection regulation. The Director General of NITDA, Dr. Isa Pantami, in a statement, said some of the organisations under investigations have been reported to be violating the rule. Aside the private operators, the DG said the agency was also investigating the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) for alleged violation of the NDPR.
NITDA said it also discovered that there were over seven million Nigerians who are active users of the service, hence the need to enlighten the need to look deeper into the app and enlighten public on some of the areas of non-compliance as well as guide those affected.
NITDA, in a statement signed by its Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, said the caller-identification service was putting “many Nigerians in unsavoury conditions.’’
He said contrary to the expectation of many users, the Truecaller service collected far more information than it needs to provide its primary service.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on Friday 25 May 2018 and it has been described as the toughest data protection regime in the world as enforcements kick-started immediately. Late last year, authorities in Portugal issued a €400,000 fine to a hospital for failure to apply appropriate access controls over digital patient data. One of the most interesting aspects of this particular case is that no breach of data occurred. It indicates that corporations of all sizes, across the EU and in other jurisdictions, should expect a rise in regulator activity from a variety of catalysts, not just breaches.
In another GDPR enforcement, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) demanded that a Canadian-based organisation “cease processing any personal data of UK or EU citizens obtained from UK political organisations or otherwise for the purposes of data analytics, political campaigning or any other advertising purposes,” or else face significant financial penalties. That enforcement validated the expectation of many experts that data protection authorities will indeed pursue any company in violation of GDPR regardless of whether or not they are based in Europe.
Major breaches of the GDPR can lead to fines of €20 million or four per cent of the infringer’s global turnover, whichever is the higher. Major breaches include failures to respect the rights of data subjects (such as the right to erase data), failures to process on the basis of the one of the permitted grounds, failures to apply the prescribed procedures for special categories of data (e.g. health or genetic data), or transferring data outside the EEA without lawful process. “Less significant breaches” can lead to fines of €10 million or two per cent of the infringer’s global turnover, whichever is the higher.
Need for law
Before the introduction of NDPR this year, NITDA had introduced Data Protection Guidelines in 2017 as a way of protecting the citizens’ data. Obviously, failure of that regulatory guideline to address the issue led to the release of NDPR, a replicate of Europe’s GDPR.
To avoid same fate befalling NDPR, industry analysts said the country would need to give data protection force of law by signing the Data Protection Bill 2010, which has been pending before the National Assembly, into law. The bill sponsored by a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, seeks to protect parties in regard to publication of market survey details and information, ensure that unauthorised processing of personal information is reduced, and use of personal data and information without the prior consent of the data is subjected to scrutiny.
Passage of the bill into law is expected to bolster the objectives of the NDPR and help in enforcement of the regulation.
The introduction of the regulation, no doubt, ushered in a new era of data management in the country; however, to achieve success in the regard, enforcement must be taken seriously.
According to stakeholders, if the regulation is duly enforced and complied with, it will be in substantial compliance with the GDPR and may provide more comfort to Nigerian entities doing business in the EU or with EU entities.
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