Even as concern continues to mount about the country’s rising debt profile, the Federal Government is set to secure an additional $2.5 billion loan from the World Bank.
World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Mr. Hafez Ghanem, told Bloomberg yesterday that the Bank is holding talks with Nigeria over a new tranche of concessionary lending to Africa’s most populous country.
Ghanem stated that Nigeria received $2.4 billion from the World Bank in the past year, adding that: “We’re talking about a new set of programmes of about the same amount; it should be around $2.5 billion.
“The current economic performance of Nigeria is not enough to reduce poverty. We need to accelerate growth.”
Nigeria, which vies with South Africa for Africa’s biggest economy, has made a sluggish recovery since a 2016 contraction, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanding only 1.9% in the three months through June, slowing for the third consecutive quarter.
The World Bank in April lowered its 2019 growth forecast for Nigeria to 2.1% from 2.2%.
Coming into office over four years ago when the price of oil, Nigeria’s main export, nosedived, thereby leading to a drastic shortfall in revenue, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has increased borrowing to finance government spending.
In fact, according to debt statistics obtained from the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s external debt rose from $10.32 billion in June 30, 2015 to $22.08 billion as of June 30, 2018.
Currently, the country’s foreign loans and domestic debt stand at $25.6 billion and $55.6 billion respectively.
In order to ease the mounting debt burden, the Federal Government has sought more credit with low interest and long repayment periods from institutions, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Ghanem said the World Bank’s focus in Nigeria is to lift about 100 million Nigerians, half of the population, out of poverty, with special emphasis on women’s education, expanding digital opportunities and solving a power crisis that hobbles economic activities.
He also revealed that the Bank is supporting digital transformation in Nigeria because of its potential ability to transform other areas of the economy, including industry, agriculture and services.
“Nigeria has a comparative advantage in that area because of the youth, a majority of the population is young. So if we want to create jobs, we need to invest much more in the digital economy,” he said.
The World Bank official further stated that: “It’s important to resolve the problems of the power sector in Nigeria to bring in more investments. Because you need to bring down the cost of power to make the economy more competitive for the development of industries.”
It will be recalled that while presenting the draft 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) recently, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who announced that the government is proposing about N9.79 trillion as total expenditure in the 2020 budget, disclosed that debt service is projected to increase from N2.14 trillion in 2019 to about N2.45 trillion while new borrowing is to gulp N1.7 trillion next year.
Border closure: Smugglers devise new methods to beat Customs
…convey rice, oil, turkey on motorcycles, through the sea
- Local rice scarce, costly –Traders
Notwithstanding the heavy policing and thorough security checks at the land borders, aimed at ensuring compliance with Federal Government’s closure order, smugglers are still plying their illicit trade, as they have now devised new methods and new routes to convey their products, especially bags of rice, turkey and vegetable oil. Investigations by Saturday Telegraph reveal that the illegal dealers in the commodities now engage the services of motorcyclists and canoe operators to convey bags of rice and cartons of vegetable oil from Benin Republic to Nigeria. An undercover operation by our correspondents, who were embedded among the smugglers, exposes the covert and deadly operation of the men of the underworld, showing how they bypass the borders by going through the sea and land using remote villages. On the sea, our reporters witnessed how a team of smugglers paddled their canoes in very dangerous manner, along the Cotonou- Badagry beaches, passing through places like Gbetrume and Inagbe to beat the eagle-eyed Customs officials. Some of the smugglers are also armed in the pro-cess as they ferry their illegal products in a combat-ready manner, as narrated by one of the smugglers.
Witnessing smuggling operations
Pretending to be smugglers, our reporters had approached some canoe paddlers for help to take their wares to the other side of the sea. Agreeing to carry out the dirty job, but not without a fee, one of the traffickers, advised our reporters to brace up for the show ahead. The canoe operator, who spoke in pidgin English, while claiming to be the ‘captain’ of the boat, said he is not new in the business, as he had been conveying people across the sea over the years. Not wanting to lose their money in case of any eventuality or a confrontation with naval officers, which could make them abandon the job, the traffickers opted to collect their money before embarking on the journey. “Na gbege we dey go now. We never know whether we dey come back or we go yamutu, make you just ready and make you give us our money before we comot”, he said in adulterated language. The journey was however hitch-free as the canoe operators eventually stopped at place where some ‘okada’ riders took over the job. On land, the smugglers move their wares through Igolo, a border village and its neighbouring hamlets to pass through Owode and Idiroko in order to bypass Seme border and reach their destination. The risky process of the new method has however led to the increase in the prices of the grains and oily liquid, as bikers now collect N100 per bag as against the N50 that was in force before the closure. In the same vein, bikers that hitherto convey between three and five bags on a single journey, now load up to six bags to do brisk business. As such, a single journey that used to cost the smugglers not more than N200 now makes them cough out N600 per route. This has no doubt added to the rising cost of the commodities, as it has made the price unbearable for consumers and end-users of the products to purchase.
Involvement of Customs, giant coys’ staff
Further investigations show that some Customs officials as well as drivers and haulage staff of some big and international companies are involved in the ongoing illegalities. Our correspondents did not only see how big trucks were allowed into the country, but also witnessed how they smuggled bags of rice,turkey and vegetable oil, using the cover of their business empires. On the particular day, convoy of trucks belonging to cement, paint, shoes and other manufacturing companies were seen packing the smuggled products into their vans. One of our reporters, pretending to be a smuggler, had approached some of the drivers, who narrated how they have been ‘helping’ others to convey their goods across the border, before agreeing to take her bags of rice across the border for a fee. One of the drivers explained that the Customs officials would be compensated by their bosses once the goods arrive their destination. He said: “When we are stopped by the Customs people, we will just tell them that the rice belongs to the white men, our ogas, and that it is for their domestic consumption. They know how they get their money from our bosses. “Police and Customs do not disturb the drivers of white men and big companies. That is the opportunity we have been using to take it across the border. We only enjoy the privilege to make our own money. “But your money will depend on the number of police and Customs check points. You know that they always take our apples and those apples belong to our oga. So, you will have to pay for the apples”, he said. True to his words, the officials met on the road were only shown the apples, which they took, promising to see the driver and haulage staff in ‘town’. What is however not clear is the place they referred to as ‘town’ as well as the reason for allowing the trucks to move despite the government order. When asked the reason for their movement even with the closure, the driver simply replied that some buses belonging to big organisations are allowed to move with a special pass. “We can move, just like the multinational corporations can move. We enjoy the same privilege and they were told to allow us because our companies are international”, he said. An on-the-spot assessment to various markets by our correspondents across the country however shows that there is low patronage of the products owing to the rising cost of rice and vegetable oil.
Local rice in foreign bags
A new twist to the rising prices is the fact that some smugglers now put local rice in the bags meant for the foreign product. This was witnessed in one of the villages, where our correspondent was on covert operation. The village (names withheld), which was far away from the border and many miles into a busy Lagos busy area, had some of inhabitants repackaging the product. Saturday Telegraph team saw some people in the process of exchanging the bags, this they noted was to make it more attractive as many people believe in the consumption of foreign products. “This is just our way of making good money in this period. Many people want to eat foreign rice, they prefer Uncle Benz and other foreign rice but they don’t know the taste. “Once they see it in the foreign bag, they will buy it. We have been selling it to them, and they are eating it. That shows you that many of them do not even know what they are buying”, one the sellers told our correspondent.
Visiting the markets
In many parts of Nigeria, including Lagos, Benin, Kano, Port Harcourt and several others, Saturday Telegraph investigations showed that the prices of various brands of rice which is a staple food of most homes have also gone up while the availability of both local and foreign rice products vary from one market to the other Our Correspondent who visited Butcher Street Market on Mission road, New Benin Market on Benin-Lagos road and Agbado Market on Akpakpava road, all in Benin City, the Edo State capital gathered that local brand packs of rice are available with sharp rise in their prices while the prices of foreign products are prohibitive. The prices of some of local brands range from N19, 500 to N22, 500 per bag while that of foreign rice is between N25, 000 and N27, 000 each bag. Indications showed that local rice is available in large stock in some of the markets visited while foreign products and brands are in low in stock. However, aside the low or high availability of the rice products, there is low patronage by customers due to the increased prices. Among the local brands available in the markets visited include Mama Choice N22,000,; Patron N21, 500, Tomato Rice N19, 000; Big Bull N22, 500 and Royal Naija N25, 000. Those of foreign brands are within the ranges of N27,500 for Cap Rice, Tomato rice N26, 000, Yummy Yummy N25, 000, Royal Stallion N25, 000 while the price of 20kg of Gripple Seven is N13, 000. The Niger State Chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Idris Abini blamed the reason for the increase and differences in the prices of local rice on activities of hoarders and also the farmers. He however told our Correspondent that, before the year runs out, there would be bumper harvest and rice would flood the markets and thereby crash the prices. When our correspondent visited the Engr. Abdulhadi’s Kure ultra modern and the popular Kasuwa Gwari in Minna, only few shops have foreign rice (Caprice and Stallion) displayed.
The prices of local rice in Ebonyi otherwise known as Abakaliki Rice has continued to increase. Though the commodity is much available in the markets and various mills across the state where they are processed, packaged and sold, the price of the rice has been on the increase because of its high demands arising from the restriction on foreign rice. A market survey conducted in across major markets in Enugu, including Ogbete Main Market and New Haven Market shows that full bag or bushel (50kg) of foreign rice (Caprice brand and Tomato brand) goes for N21, 000 as at this weekend, as against N20, 000 it sold about three weeks ago. Similarly, half bag or half bushel (25kg) of foreign rice currently goes for N10, 500 as against N10, 000 it sold about three weeks ago. On the other hand, full bag or bushel (50kg) of local rice currently sells for N14, 500; while half bag or half bushel (25kg) goes for N7, 300. This is against N12,500 and N6,500 respectively about three weeks ago.
Traders across the country have said that following the closure of the country’s borders, the demand for local rice has increased, occasioning widespread scarcity in some states. Most of the shops visited by our correspondents in different towns showed that there were limited stocks of local rice on sale. The most available brands of local rice in the markets in Imo are ‘Mama’s Pride’ and ‘Chef’s Choice’, and both are produced in Nasarawa State. One of the traders in Owerri, Ebuka Uzoigwe, lamented the ordeal traders undergo to get supply of rice, adding that the country was not yet prepared for the border closure. He said: “Local rice is speedily going out of the reach of ordinary people and it is not yet Christmas. The rice is not even available and even where it is available it is costly. Before the border closure, local rice was sold about N14,000 but now Mama’s Pride is N20,000 while Chef’s Choice is N18,000. They are almost the same price with foreign rice which is sold about N22,000 but unavailable. Most of the bags of foreign rice you see in the market today are old stocks.” “Some of us came together, contributed money and ordered a trailer load of local rice. It is two months now since we gave money to our supplier and we have not gotten any supply. Only recently the supplier called us to tell us that to facilitate timely delivery of the supply, we must add an extra N1500 for each bag of the rice. It is the final consumer that will bear the brunt. ” When asked about the Abakaliki rice from Ebonyi state and the Coscharis rice, he said the Abakaliki rice was also as scarce as others while stressing that they were yet to see Coscharis rice in Owerri. “For now, people that want to buy Coscharis rice, we refer them to the television where they saw the advertorials. The point is that we did not produce enough to go round before we shut down our borders. After the border closure, it became obvious that most of the states we thought were producing rice do not even have enough to serve their state which is why we no longer get regular supply and when we get, we get them at exorbitant prices.” Mrs. Ngozi Okereke in Orlu confirmed that for the first time, she just got supply of the Coscharis local rice and that it sells for N21,000 a bag. She also lamented the sudden hike in the price of local rice in the market. “It defeats the purpose of closing the borders and banning the importation of foreign rice,” she said.
In the southern parts of the country, local rice such as Bblue, Maurice, Maka, Offada, “O’god” and so on are largely available in the markets and while foreign rice like Tomatoes, Good Mama, Flourish, Good luck and so on prices were put at N27,000, N28,000 e.t.c at Sekona, Oluode, Ilobu, Owode markets of the state. At the popular Ogbeogonogo Central Market in Asaba and Midwifery Market along Okpanam Road, the price of a 50kg locally produced rice has risen by more than two-third since July. As at October 10, the price of Caprice foreign rice rose from N16,000 to N29,000 while locally produced stonefree Tomatoes rice skyrocketed from N13,000 to N25,000, even half-bags went up from N6,500 to N15,500.
While foreign rice is scarce in the markets visited, owing to the border closure, local rice, which is expected to have flooded the marketplace, is at lower production. Prices of poultry food like frozen turkey and chicken rose at fastest pace from N1,300 to N2,200 and N1,100 to N1,400 respectively.
The Chief Job Creation Officer, Prof. Eric Eboh, to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, said Okowa had succeeded in using agricultural landscape to develop the state and create wealth and job for unemployed youths and graduates in the state. He said: “We are already milling the rice.
It will be from farm to table. We will process and package it to be launched. It will end up at the government conference table, where it will be served for governors and captains of industries, and declared open to be exported to other countries for consumption.”
In Abia State, the much talked about Abia Rice (Osikapa Abia) could not be found in any market. It was gathered that the Abia Rice has no particular point of production but as produced at the various rice producing communities. Recently, the Chief Press to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Mr Onyebuchi Ememanka, told journalists the Ikpeazu administration has established four cottage rice mills at Ofeme, Bende, Acha and Uzuakoli with plans to establish additional mills in Arochukwu and Bende.
In Bayelsa, the local rice, which is now the generally accepted, has flooded the markets. A visit to Swali market the biggest market in Bayelsa showed that almost all the local brands of rice were available. It was noticed that there were more than six brands of local rice at the market. North Despite the closure foreign rice is still available in some markets in the North, especially in Sokoto State. One of our correspondents who visited markets in the North noticed various brands of foreign and locally produced rice. The brand names of the rice seen in the Sokoto old market includes Naija, Sogar, Tomato Anajo, Royal Stallion, and Diamond among others, while the local rice include King, Royal, Naija, Labana, while others have no brand names.
Traders in the old market in Sokoto said the hike in the price of foreign rice had made consumers to have preference for local rice. A trader known as Aliyu said the price of foreign rice had increased to N1000 per measure and 50kg bag of the commodity is being sold at above N18, 000. According to him the increase has led to consumers demanding locally produced rice with a stable price of between N550 to N600 a measure. In Kano, despite the availability of local rice and the springing up of many milling companies, the prices of the commodity has skyrocketed.
Some of the rice farmers and sellers in Kano have different positions on why the price of the commodity is high, some believe that lack of implements and lack of seri-ous government intervention caused the hike in price. Alhaji Zakari GarunBaba a big time Rice Farmer, believes that all the Federal Government’s policies on rice farming was rather a failure because most of them who were truly in the business were not considered.
“You could see that after spending these huge amount the prices of rice in the final analysis will be determined by how it is being produced locally, that is why today we have a bag in the market been sold at N15,000 to N16,000”. In the same vein Alhaji Sabiu Bako a rice miller who recently open his milling company, said from diesel to other operational items needed to produced the local rice they spent millions of Naira that is why it is still high price in the market. The Federal Government Boarders Closure has received a significant supports from the Nigeria Rice Producers who says the policy is greatly making impact on the home grown rice.
Another tanker explosion hits Onitsha
- 30 vehicles, properties, houses worth millions razed
- Obiano sacks Fire Service chief
- Oduah, Ekwunife react
Barely 48 hours after a fire ignited by a fallen tanker killed at least three persons in Onitsha, Anambra State, another fuel tanker yesterday fell and caught fire in the commercial city of Onitsha. The incident according to eye witness occurred about 1.30 am. The tanker, head pulled off and ran for about one kilometre, and stopped while the body of the tanker crashed near line bus stop Omagba Phase two. The tanker was carrying gasoline just like the last Wednesday incident at Upper Iweka, bursting into flames. It followed through the drainage as usual to the nearby streets. It burnt down about three caterpillars estimated at cost 15 million each, a 911 lorry fully loaded with plywood with Registration No UM Z 624Z5. It was further gathered that the spilled fuel flowed down through Udadi Street while the fire spread to some mechanic workshops, some nearby residential buildings and torched several vehicles, houses and property worth million of naira.
A resident, Mr. Mike Ouwuwkwe, told our correspondent that the incident happened at 2 am. According to him, the driver of the tanker allegedly ran away after the head of the tanker had stopped at the New Tyre market, taking along with him the battery and the number plate. He called on Ndigbo to be Vigilant, pointing out that the incident of Wednesday and yesterday is a serious security threat that must be checked. On his part, Ik Law Nwagbo, appealed to the Anambra State Government to put machinery in motion to ensure that the state fire service is efficiently and effectively put into use.
Similarly, a Taxi Driver and a pastor, Mr. Nwodu, said he lost his 504 Pegeout car with registration No AG899 NSH, stressing that his vehicle cost about N750,000. Other vehicles burnt on the same premises, include Audi 80 registration No BU- 598MUS Corolla, FGG 825 ME as well as the residential building. However, residents who spoke to an online news portal, PREMIUMTIMES, noted that the incident occurred on the Enugu-Onitsha expressway around 1 a.m., with no lives lost in the incident. Commenting on the incident, a witness, Chiedu Beluchi, said the incident occurred when the vehicle fell and spilled its contents believed to be petrol into the drainage which quickly spread to the surrounding area. Beluchi said: “Around 3 a.m we heard shouts of ‘fire,’ ‘fire’. I thought it was our building. When we rushed out it was at Enugu-Onitsha express.
A tanker laden with fuel fell on the express exactly in front of a filling station.” Unlike Wednesday’s incident where the Anambra State Fire Service failed to show up with their fire fighting equipment, Mr Beluchi said the firefighters quickly put out the fire.
He said: “This time, Anambra State Fire Service came swiftly and before 4:30 a.m. the fire had been put out and stopped from causing havoc in the residential area.” Another resident, Ada Igwe, however, said the fire destroyed some cars parked on the street around the area. “The fuel tanker fell this on the Onitsha Enugu expressway opposite Bessoy filling station and burst into flames which entered Omagba Phase 2 and burnt some cars parked along the drainage line,” she said.
Police confirm incident
Confirming the inferno, the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. John Abang, confirmed the incident. “This time around, the fire service responded well after they were contacted by my men,” the police chief said.
Ohaneze sympathises with traders
President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the apex -Igbo sociocultural organisation, Chief Nnia Nwodo, yesterday said the Onitsha fire inferno which left many people dead, with goods, shops and other infrastructure destroyed, was very devastating. Nwodo, who spoke when he visited Ochanja Central Market, the second largest market in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State, with the highest causality, said he was moved by the level of devastation. He noted with regret that the Fire Service and the state’s Ministry of Works had abandoned their duty and left the market even when many buildings were still in flame with smokes.
Sympathising with the traders who lost their goods and families of the dead, Nwodo prayed that they should bear the loss with fortitude, saying: “God knows everything before it happens.” Nwodo said: “A number of people have lost their lives, some have lost their sources of livelihoods, what pains me most is that I can still see some flames. “One should have expected that the Fire Service and Ministry of Works employees should all be present here now. These buildings damaged can fall any time. It should have been cordoned off with ribbons so that people do not come close. “So, that we don’t have more causalities and deaths. I want all security agencies and beg them to come back. The traders who lost their goods should be compensated and the dead be given befitting burial.” He commended the Delta State Government for the efforts with its fire fighting equipment to provide support to stop the fire.
Obiano sacks Fire Service boss, Agbili
The Anambra State Government may have sacked the state fire officer, Mr Martin Agbili. Announcing his removal and other sweeping changes and restructuring within the Fire department, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Chief C-Don Adinuba, said Air Vice Marshal Ben Chiobi, had been appointed as the new boss of the agency. The announcement des-ignated the new fire chief as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the new autonomous Fire department.
Chiobi, according to Adinuba is currently the Special Adviser to the Governor on Creative Security as well as Coordinator of the Anambra State Integrated Security System. Adinuba disclosed that the new structures were consequent upon moves already initiated by Gov Willie Obiano to grant the State Fire Service greater autonomy in its operations and management, subject to approval by the Anambra State House of Assembly. He pointed out that the law setting up the state Fire Service would be amended in order to make it independent of the state Ministry of Public Utilities or any other ministry. The autonomy, he added would free it from present unnecessary bureaucratic encumbrances and enable it responds more effectively and efficiently to the challenges of its mandate.
The Information and Public Enlightenment also announced the willingness of the State government to receive donations and assistance from the public in aid of the various fire victims. He declared: “Governor Willie Obiano has, therefore, opened a bank account to assist the fire victims.
It is known as the Anambra State Victims Support Account. The account number is 5030105029, Fidelity Bank Plc. “It is to be administered by the distinguished sons and daughters of our state who serve as trustees of the Anambra State Security Trust Fund led by Chief Chidi Anyaegbu, MFR, Chairman of Chisco Group. “All Anambra indigenes, friends, in laws and well wishers are encouraged to give generously to our brothers and sisters who are now all of a sudden in dire need of assistance. Let us demonstrate, once more, our famed abundance of humanism.”
Oduah, Ekwunife condole with victims
Wednesday’s fire incident continued to elicit reactions from across the state, with the senator representing Anambra North District, Stella Oduah, in a statement, said she would donate three fire trucks to help in fire fighting in the state. Oduah said: “Sequel to my statement yesterday where I promised to look into ways of ameliorating the plight of victims in yesterday’s fuel tanker inferno, I have decided on the following steps: “Wounded victims are encouraged to go to the Saint Charles Borromeo Hospital and Holy Rosary Hospital, Waterside where arrangements have been put in place to receive and treat them for free. “I shall be making a donation of three Oduah said.fire trucks to the Federal Fire Service in Onitsha to ensure they are better equipped to avert future occurrences like this.” Also, the senator representing Anambra Central District, Uche Ekwunife, commiserated with the victims of the fire disaster. In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Kingsley Ubani, the lawmaker described the incident as sad and unfortunate.
Budget 2020: FG proposes N49.9bn on key power, housing projects
The Federal Government has proposed to spend the sum of N49.9billion on some key infrastructure projects in the power and housing sectors next year. In the 2020 Appropriation Bill now under consideration at the National Assembly, the sum of N2 billion has been set aside as funds for the Mambilla Hydro Power project, N200 million for construction of 215MW LPFO/ Gas Power station in Kaduna while N150 million will be dedicated to Afam Fast Power Programme Accelerated Gas and Solar Power Generation.
In the Housing Sector, the sum of N17.5 billion has been earmarked for the Fed-eral Government National Housing Programme and another N30 billion for its Social Housing Scheme, called Family Homes Fund. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who disclosed this during the presentation of the 2020 budget estimates in Abuja, said that the sum of N44.50 billion has been provided for the implementation of the National Health Act in the coming fiscal year.
Similarly, N22.73 billion has been provided for GAVI/ Immunisation, N4.8 billion for Polio Eradication Initiatives, N815 million for the procurement of Non Polio SIA Vaccine and N655 million for the procurement of kits and commodities for Community Health Influencers. In the same vein, N2 billion has been earmarked for the Expanded Midwives Service Scheme, N5.5 billion for counterpart funding including global fund/health and N4 billion for Procurement of RI Vaccines and devices.
In the Water Resources sector, the sum of N1.67 billion has been provided for the Hawul inter basin water transfer dam project, N700 million for Zungeru Wushishi Water Supply, N1.6 billion for Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH), N1 billion for Special Intervention for North East and IDPs – potable water schemes and over N30 billion for water supply, rehabilitation of dams, and irrigation projects nationwide. Under Agriculture and Rural Development, about N11 billion for Promotion and Development of Value Chain across in more than 30 different commodities, N3.97 billion for Veterinary and Pest Control Services, N8.20 billion for Rural Roads And Water Sanitation while N2.01 billion has been set aside for National Grazing Reserve Development.
NDIC pays N8.25bn to 442,999 depositors in 30 years
…declares banks healthy, stable
The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has paid insured amount of over N8.25 billion in the past 30 years of its existence to 442,999 depositors of closed deposit money banks (DMBs), N2.97 billion to 83,415 depositors of closed micros finance banks (MFBs) and over N70.53 million paid to 869 depositors of closed primary mortgage banks (PMBs). Managing Director/CEO of the corporation, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, confirmed the figures over the weekend in Abuja, at a press conference to kick-start events commemorating the 30th anniversary celebration of the corporation.
Established in March 1989, the corporation over time has increased the maximum deposit insurance coverage twice, from N50,000 per depositor per DMB at inception, to N200, 000 in 2006 and N500,000 in 2010. Similarly, maximum coverage per depositor of PMBs/ MFBs was increased from N100, 000 in 2006 to N200, 000 in 2010. Coverage per depositor per PMB had since been increased to N500,000 to reflect the increased deposit structure in the sub-sector and to stimulate mortgage savings. Represented by Director, Communications and Public Affairs Unit, Mr. Sunday Oluyemi, the CEO said: “Since its inception, the corporation successfully responded to economic realities and yearnings of depositors by periodically increasing the maximum Deposit Insurance Coverage (DIC).
“This is to enhance the confidence of the public in the Nigerian financial system. On average, this is done every five years in line with Global best practice. “The corporation increased the maximum deposit insurance coverage twice, from N50,000 per depositor per deposit money bank (DMB) at inception, to N200, 000 in 2006 and N500,000 in 2010. “Similarly, maximum coverage per depositor of PMBs/ MFBs was increased from N100, 000 in 2006 to N200,000 in 2010. Coverage per depositor per PMB had since been increased to N500,000 to reflect the increased deposits structure in the sub-sector and to stimulate Mortgage Savings.
“To date, the NDIC has paid a cumulative sum of over N8.25 billion as insured amount to 442,999 depositors of closed DMBs; paid over N2.97 billion to 83,415 depositors of closed MFBs, and over N70.53 million was paid to 869 depositors of closed PMBs.” The DIS covers all deposittaking financial institutions licensed by the CBN which include Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Microfinance Banks (MFBs), Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs), Non-Interest Banks (NIBs) and subscribers of Mobile Money Operators (MMOs). He said NDIC currently provided Deposit Insurance cover to 27 DMBs, 918 MFBs, 34 PMBs and two NIBs. Umaru said Nigeria banks were not only resilient but that they were sound and healthy as well as on sound footing, adding that, the corporation was collaborating with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on supervision of the sector.
“The NDIC collaborates with the CBN to ensure that the institutions remain healthy at all times and/or where there are problems, they are detected and addressed promptly. Supervision guarantees stability, integrity, soundness and efficiency in the banking system and is employed by NDIC for the protection of depositors’ interest. “The supervisory activities of the corporation are carried out through a combination of On-site Examination and Off-site Surveillance. “The collaboration between CBN and NDIC over the years has reduced the bank examination cycle, enhanced monetary policy, promoted safe and sound banking practices as well as assist in resolving Troubled Financial Institutions.”
Loan arbitage: CBN to sanction banks, blacklist customers
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is set to wield the big stick on banks and their customers who are circumventing its Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) policy, Saturday Telegraph has learnt. Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Isaac Okoroafor, confirmed this last night in Washington D.C. on the sidelines of the on going World Bank/ International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings. “We will crack down on banks and companies that would attempt to game our policies through financial markets arbitrage,” he said.
“We are saying banks must lend. So we prescribed the LDR, Now that they are ready to lend and at reasonably low rates not buying securities, people should not borrow to buy securities thereby arbitraging. The economy must see growth induced by higher consumer and manufacturing output.” Noting that Nigerians had been praying for low rates, which is now the norm, companies should take the loan to conduct their manufacturing business and not get involved in arbitrage.
The apex bank initially set the LDR at 60 per cent before raising it to 65 per cent with a December 2019 deadline. This directive has led to lower lending rates but some lenders it was leant, are now giving loans to customers to buy treasury bills (TBs) and other government securities at CBN’s open market operations (OMO), thus making a margin, which is considered as arbitrage — taking advantage of rate differentials in the markets. Similarly, there are also those who take intervention loans for agriculture and industry from the Bank of Industry (BOI) at 7 per cent and then invest in TBs and CBN’s OMO at 14 per cent — making a profit of seven percentage points without investing in the sectors the funds were intended for.
While explaining that no circular had been sent to banks warning them of the implications of such arbitrage, Okoroafor said the lender have been informed through a text they are being monitored. He said the banking watchdog had already told banks to reverse some TBs and OMO of customers suspected of arbitraging.
He said: “This is a policy meant to spur manufacturing output. We have started to see banks now marketing their customers for loans including consumer credits and mortgages. “Now that these are coming at low rates, manufacturing companies should concentrate on their manufacturing businesses and not in arbitrage. This is how manufacturing output and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) can be boosted “Any customer found arbitraging will be blacklisted, names published and the banks penalized.” The CBN had sanctioned 12 banks for failing to comply with the earlier 60 per cent LDR by debiting the lenders a total sum of N499 billion last month, and just few days ago returned some of these debits to the lenders that had complied.
Kogi Assembly removes deputy governor, screens CoS as replacement
Less than a month to the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State, the state assembly yesterday removed the Deputy Governor, Simon Achuba, from office. The removal came barely five hours after the assembly received the report of a panel of enquiry set up to look into the allegations of gross misconduct against Achuba. Achuba’s removal followed a long battle between him and his boss, Governor Yahaya Bello, which led to the composition of the judicial panel set up by the Kogi State Chief Judge, Justice Nadir Ajanah, to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct.
The assembly, within the short period, debated the matter, impeached and removed Achuba from office. Earler, the chairman of the panel, Mr. John Baiyeshea, had led six other members of the panel to submit the report to the Speaker, Hon. Kolawole Matthew.
The House, after a few hours, held an emergency meeting and afterwards announced the deputy governor’s removal. The Majority Leader, Hon. Bello Balogun, announced that the house met and deliberated on the recommendations of the panel before arriving at the conclusion. Consequently, the running mate to Bello in the November 16 election, Edward Onoja, who was the Chief-of- Staff to the governor, has been nominated to replace the removed deputy. He is billed to be screened by the lawmakers today (Saturday).
The recent resignation of Onoja had elicited suspicion that he might be the chosen one to replace the embattled deputy governor. There had been a running battle between Bello and Achuba, which was said to have snowballed into the impeachment move. Baiyeshea, while submitting the report, said the committee members had ensured due diligence before they arrived at their recommendations. “We have done the best we know how to do according to law and evidence presented to us. Our committee’s report is only to the state House of Assembly through the Speaker, in accordance to the constitution.”
“The report is in three volumes; volume 1 contained all documents forwarded to us by the Chief Judge that he received from the assembly, and additional reports made available to the committee. “Volume 2 contained the evidences given during the proceedings and volume 3 contained reviews of the committee and recommendations.
“The chairman, who declined to reveal the position of the committee, however urged interested persons to approach the right channel to obtain copies if they so desired. The Speaker of the state Assembly, Kolawole Matthew while receiving the report said the lawmakers would go through the reports thoroughly.
“We shall go into the reports thoroughly, look into the recommendations and do justice to it.” Matthew eulogised the committee, saying the members have gone into the annals of history in Nigeria as the first to perform a thorough work devoid of any interference. “How we manage the affairs of today will become history tomorrow. Kogi is greater than all of us, and justice will be served,” he added. The committee, which was inaugurated on August 26, 2019, had 90 days to submit its report, but did so in 49 days.
…Lagos tackling scarcity, says Sanwo-Olu
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo- Olu, has said the state government is intensifying efforts on the 32metric tons per hour capacity Integrated Rice Mill project in Imota, to ease the scarcity of rice, saying that the project is expected to be completed and commissioned in the next seven months.
The state government also is in the process of acquiring an estimated fresh 32,000 hectares of farmland for rice cultivation in seven states comprising Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Kebbi states. Residents in the state have been lamenting over scarcity rice, especially the LAKE Rice which was introduced by the former governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode and sold for N12,000 until it was recently jacked up to N14,000. According to the Governor Sanwo-Olu, who spoke through the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folasade Jaji, a key component in the food security programme of the state government is the 32metric tons per hour capacity Integrated Rice Mill in Imota, which is expected to be completed and commissioned in the next seven months. He noted that when completed, the mill would ensure sustainable supply of wholesome rice at an affordable price to the populace in Lagos and help to reduce rice importation into the Nigerian economy. Sanwo-Olu said: “Today, we are happy to join the rest of the World in celebrating this year’s World Food Day.
This annual celebration being spearheaded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, is about raising awareness on issues related to food such as poverty and hunger and to highlight efforts being made by governments, Institutions, Organizations and individuals to mitigate the negative effects on people,” Sanwo-Olu said. He added the project was also collaborating with Africa Rice for the development of Pure Ofada Rice, capacity building for seed out growers and rice-based products and as such no fewer than 35 farmers and state officers had been trained while the Institute is expected to supply 200kg of foundation Ofada seed by February 2020 for cultivation.
The governor added that the state government recognised the contributions of hard working and enterprising farmers in Lagos State and assured them of the State Government’s continued support in order to ensure greater output and bountiful reward for their efforts.
On his part, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, noted that the state government had instituted and encouraged the cultivation of crops under the irrigation farming and the use of Greenhouses in order to overcome the various challenges posed by the change in climatic conditions as a result of the global warming.
He noted that climate change had equally greatly affected the growth and multiplication of fish in the water bodies thus in a bid to address this issue, the state government had embarked on some innovations such as the Cage and Pen Culture where fish were cultivated in nets in the deep sea as a way of synthesizing a natural habitat for them. “A prototype of this Cage and Pen Culture is presently being set up at Agbowa. The list of other areas where the Ministry of Agriculture has put up a revolution, which advertently is combating the effect of climate change as it affects agriculture are the reforms in abattoirs across the state to provide hygienic meat for the populace and the acquisition of Agricultural land outside the state to exploit and reduce cost of production outside the state in order to stem the tide of rising prices of food in the state among others,” Lawal said.
Umahi: Buhari promises more projects for South-East
Chairman, South-East Governors’ Forum (SEGF) and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Dave Umahi, yesterday told Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT) to expect more projects from the Federal Government for the region. He said President Muhammadu Buhari had assured them that he would look into the requests of South-East Governors’ Forum and Igbo leaders to construct more projects for the zone. Umahi who was addressing the group when they paid him courtesy call at Government House Abakaliki, where he briefed them on the outcome of South East leaders meeting with President Buhari on Thursday, and threatened not to have dealings with any group that castigate the president, governors and all those in positions of authority in the country.
He explained that what South East needs was projects that would develop the region and not castigation of leaders of the country. Umahi said: “After Igbo leaders meeting in Enugu, I was directed to go and see Mr. President in Abuja on the welfare of Ndigbo and I went.
We told him that the way Kaduna is very important to the North is the way Enugu is to South East and Akanu International Airport should be made to be like Lagos airport. The president asked ‘is that all you want and we said yes?’ and he agreed to do it. He told me to join him to South Africa for the welfare of our people in that country and I followed him to South Africa. “When we were in South Africa, I approached him and said Your Excellency what you promised us had not been done and he promised to do it. Immediately he returned from South Africa, he did it and we did not know he has done it.”
UBA honours Jamodu after 12 years of service
Pan African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has assured investors and shareholders of its continuous adherence to solid corporate governance processes as the bank honoured its ex-director, Chief Kola Jamodu. In a dinner in his honour in Abuja during the week, Jamodu was celebrated for his service on the bank’s board for 12 years as a nonexecutive director. Accolades were poured on him for his remarkable contributions to the group over the period that have helped solidify the bank’s footprints in its many countries of operations. Speaking at the event, UBA’s Group Chairman, Mr. Tony O. Elumelu, commended Jamodu’s efforts at contributing towards the strong corporate governance policies which UBA currently boasts of.
He said: “Chief Jamodu is a great Nigerian, a respected man and a great non-executive director to UBA. He has been wonderful and instrumental to today’s current standing of UBA across our 20 presence countries in Africa as well as in America, United Kingdom and in Paris. “He was on the board of UBA for 12 years, and in line with corporate practices, which say at the end of 12 years, you retire from the board, he is retiring and we are here to celebrate his contribution to the bank.”
While reeling off some of Jamodu’s many achievements, Elumelu said: “He has been extremely supportive to UBA; he served as Chairman of Board Risk Committee, and he has all the experience – a chartered accountant, extremely astute, chairman of Nigerian Breweries, chairman of PZ, chairman of Nutricima; former minister of industry; a great tax expert, financial and management expert and UBA has been extremely lucky to have him on our board for 12 years. “So, to him and his family, we say thank you for all the support, for the teachings, for being generous with knowledge and for asking those hard questions that made us solidify our governance processes here at UBA.”
On his part, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, explained in details the impact that Jamodu’s experience has had on the bank, adding that he was able to help UBA navigate through some challenges that have now made the bank come out even stronger.
Kogi’s deputy gov under house arrest after removal
The impeached Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Elder Simon Achuba, is currently under house arrest. An online news portal, DAILY POST gathered that, security men in there numbers and fully armed stormed his residence in Lokoja, thus, preventing him from going out or allowing any one to come in.
This development, according to sources has caused panic within the former deputy governor’s area. DAILY POST recalls that the Kogi State House of Assembly had impeached the deputy governor on Friday over alleged gross misconduct. Achuba confirmed this yesterday night, when he featured on ‘Democracy Today’ which was aired on Africa Independent Television, AIT, and monitored by our correspondent in Lokoja.
He said:” As I speak to you, I am under house arrest. My security aide has been withdrawn. Currently in my house, security operatives from government house have taken over my residence. Nobody can come in and nobody can go out.”
However, Achuba described his purported removal as Kogi State Deputy Governor as an exercise in futility and cannot stand. According to him, Nigeria is not a Banana Republic, hence the action exhibited by the Kogi State House of Assembly is a rape of democracy and would not stand. Efforts to speak with the Police Public Relations Officer proved abortive as at the time of filing this report.
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