Sustainable development goals require $55bn annually, says FG

The Federal Government on Tuesday announced that the amount required annually to fund the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is $55bn.

It disclosed this in Abuja through the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals.

The SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

The goals address the global challenges faced by humans, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.

According to the United Nations, the goals interconnect, adding that in order to leave no one behind, it is important that countries of the world achieve each goal and target by 2030.

The Senior Technical Adviser to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Bala Yunusa, stated that $55bn was needed annually to sufficiently fund the SDGs.

He disclosed this when a delegation from the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre led by the Programme Manager, Kolawale Banwo, paid a courtesy visit to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Adejoke Adefulire, in Abuja.

Yunusa, according to a statement from the OSSAP -SDGs on Tuesday, urged CISLAC to be part of the civil society advocacy group on SDGs, which is a multi-stakeholder engagement group, in order to enable it to push CISLAC’s cause forward.

On her part, Adefulire, who was represented by the Secretary of Programme, Hassan Suleiman, said her office would support CISLAC in the move towards the cleanup of Ogoniland.

She said the cleanup of Ogoniland was an issue of concern and that the government was not relenting in its efforts to ensure that the issue was addressed head-on.

Adefulire urged CISLAC to interface with relevant ministries and agencies like health, budget office, petroleum as well as the Ministry of Finance to add more impetus in their bid to tackle water pollution as a result of oil spillage in the Niger Delta.

The leader of the CISLAC delegation said their visit was borne out of the concern in Ogoniland which had been devastated by oil spillage and to seek for collaboration with OSSAP -SDGs to assist in fast-tracking the cleanup of the area.

Banwo noted that over time, the people of Ogoniland had faced water pollution occasioned by the oil exploration by oil companies in the Niger Delta, adding that this had adversely affected aquatic animals, contaminated drinking water and rendered farmlands unfit for agriculture.

The Debt Management Office has said the Federal Government will auction N100bn worth of bonds by subscription on March 27.

A circular by the DMO on Tuesday showed the breakdown of the figure to include a N40bn five-year reopening bond that would mature in April 2023 and be offered at 12.75 per cent; another N40bn seven-year reopening bond to mature in March 2025 and be auctioned at 13.53 per cent; while another N20bn 10-year bond would mature in February 2028 and be auctioned at 13.98 per cent.

According to the DMO, the auction date is March 27, 2019, while the settlement date is March 29, 2019.

The circular said the DMO, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, was offering the amounts for subscription by auction and was authorised to receive applications for them.

The DMO said, “The units of sale will be N1, 000 per unit, subject to a minimum subscription of N50,001,000 and in multiples of N1,000 thereafter.”

On the interest rate, it stated, “For re-opening of previously issued bonds, (where the coupon is already set), successful bidders will pay a price corresponding to the yield-to-maturity bid that clears the volume being auctioned, plus any accrued interest on the instrument.”

On the securities, it added that the FGN bonds were backed by the full faith and credit of the Federal Government and were charged upon the general assets of Nigeria.

In February, the Federal Government auctioned N150bn bond through the DMO which was oversubscribed by N84bn.

FG transferred N201bn to MDAs’ retirement benefit accounts — PenCom

Between April 2017 and January this year, the Federal Government transferred the sum of N201.95bn into the Retirement Benefits Bond Redemption Fund  Account maintained by the Central Bank of Nigeria for payment of accrued pension rights.

Accrued rights are pension entitlements of Federal Government workers before the commencement of the Contributory Pension Scheme in 2004.

The Federal Government is expected to make budgetary allocations every year to clear accrued rights.

Figure obtained from the National Pension Commission showed that the total pension contributions remitted to the Retirement Savings Accounts of employees of the Federal Government treasury funded agencies, from April 2017 to January 2019 were N205.16bn.

The figure is contained in a document sent by the Acting Chairman of PenCom,  Aisha Dahir-Umar, to an ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives set up to investigate the activities of the commission.

In the document, the commission stated that the Retirement Savings Accounts were currently being managed by Pension Fund Administrators.

It read in part, “The total amount disbursed by the Federal Government into the Retirement Benefits Bond Redemption Fund Account maintained by the Central Bank of Nigeria for payment of accrued pension rights from April 2017 to January 2019 is N201, 958, 183,018.00.

“The Commission operates only the Treasury Single Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria and does not maintain any other account with any commercial bank.

“It is important to note that pension contributions for employees of Treasury-funded MDAs are deducted at source by the Accountant- General of the Federation and remitted directly to the Retirement Savings Accounts of FGN employees on the IPPIS Platform.

“On the other hand, pension contributions of employees of MDAs that have not yet been on the IPPIS are paid by the Accountant-General of the Federation into the Contributory Pension Account maintained with the CBN for onward remittance to the individual RSAs of employees.”

In the document, the commission said that total pension fund assets had grown to N8.63tn as of December 2018, with average monthly contributions of N29.15bn.

It said the total pension asset was equivalent to 7.40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of the country.

The document stated that as of December 2018, over 260,808 persons had retired under the scheme.

These 260,808 retirees, according to PenCom, are currently receiving an average monthly pension payment of N10.18bn.

NNPC considers extending gas pipeline to Algeria

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is considering extending the ongoing Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline system across the Sahara to Algeria in North Africa.

NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Dr Maikanti Baru, disclosed this while receiving an award from the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria in Abuja.

Baru said the consideration for the extension of the gas pipeline was in furtherance of the corporation’s African integration drive.

He further stated that the Federal Government was working to also extend the West African Gas Pipeline to Morocco.

The NNPC helmsman also told PETAN that the Kolmani River-II Well, which spud-in was flagged off last month by President Muhammadu Buhari, was progressing satisfactorily, with drilling of 6,700 feet so far.

In a statement issued by the NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs, Ndu Ughamadu, in Abuja, Baru explained that the target was 14,200 feet, although the depth could be longer, depending on finding.

Prospecting for oil and gas in Kolmani River-II Well is one of the recent forays of the government into inland exploration in parts of the country.

Baru pledged to support the association, as he stated that “my pride in PETAN is that, today, we have the capacity and expertise as Nigerians to carry out any job in the industry that was hitherto done by foreigners.

Afreximbank promotes factoring for financial access

Afreximbank

Afreximbank promotes actoring for financial access.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has made the case for factoring as a viable and sustainable solution to address the challenge of access to financing which is hindering the growth of Africa’s small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs).

Managing Director of the Intra-African Trade Initiative at Afreximbank, Kanayo Awani, said during a factoring promotion conference held in Gaborone that factoring, a form of trade finance provided a solution to address the SME financing gap and would help innovative SMEs to grow and support Africa’s structural transformation and trade development.

Ecobank subsidiary denies court order on shares sale

Ecobank sacks 50 top managers

O&O Networks Limited, Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) owned by the Ecobank Group says contrary to certain news reports, there is no forfeiture order of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in its proceedings that is directed against Ecobank Transnational Incorporate (ETI) or Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

O&O Networks Limited is defending long-standing proceedings in the Federal High Court relating to its ownership of shares in Airtel Networks Limited that were once owned by it. The company which is a special purpose vehicle previously owned by Oceanic Bank, formed part of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated’s (ETI) in 2011 after the acquisition of Oceanic Bank. Legal proceedings were first initiated against O&O Networks Ltd in December 2006 by Broad Communications Ltd (“plaintiff”), in the Federal High Court of Nigeria.

A statement released by O&O Networks, pointed out that there is no forfeiture order of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in these proceedings that is directed against ETI or Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

According to the statement, there have been no material legal developments in the plaintiff’s substantive claim for monetary compensation since 2017, though a trial date on the substantive merits was recently fixed for May 28, 2019.

NB pioneers first solar powered brewery

Nigerian Breweries (NB) and CrossBoundary Energy yesterday signed Heineken’s first solar project in Africa.

The project is the first of its kind for Nigeria – a fully-financed solar Power Purchase Agreement for a major Nigerian business customer.

CrossBoundary Energy will be installing and operating a 650 kw solar plant located at NB’s Ibadan Brewery. It will operate the rooftop facility on behalf of Nigerian Breweries as part of a 15-year solar services agreement.

Under the agreement, NB will only pay for solar power produced, receiving a single monthly bill that incorporates all maintenance, monitoring, insurance and financing costs.

The solar energy plant will become operational this year, supplying 1GWh annually to the Ibadan brewery at a significant discount to their current cost of power, while reducing the site’s CO2 emissions by over 10,000 tonnes over the lifespan of the plant.

Managing Director of Nigerian Breweries Plc Jordi Borrut Bel stated:

“We are delighted to be a pioneer in the adoption of solar energy in Nigeria.

“The solar plant will help power our world-class brewery in Ibadan, enabling us to deliver on commitments under our ‘Brewing a Better World’ initiatives and supporting Heineken’s global ‘Drop the C’ programme for renewable energy.”

Zenith Bank to pay N87.81bn dividends to shareholders

Zenith Bank Plc is set to pay N87.81bn worth of dividends to its shareholders for the 2018 financial year, following their approval at the bank’s Annual General Meeting in Lagos on Monday.

The shareholders approved the proposal of the board to pay 250 kobo per share as dividends for the 2018 financial year.

The directors proposed a final dividend of 250 kobo per share in addition to the 30 kobo per share earlier paid as interim dividend, bringing the total amount of dividends payable to 280 kobo per share, as against the 270 kobo per share paid in 2017.

The Chairman, Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia, said the bank remained committed to delivering superior returns to its shareholders by ensuring that a good chunk of its profits was set aside for them.

He said though 2018 was very challenging, the bank was able to fully exploit the opportunities within the environment to record a performance that attested to its durability and resilience as a brand.

Ovia said, “Clearly, the results are, once again, a reflection of the exceptional financial health of the bank and the group.

“For the bank, the total deposits were N2.82tn for the 2018 financial year, which is a 2.9 per cent increase over the previous year’s figure of N2.754tn. As a group, the performance indices were no less remarkable.”

He added that while the bank’s profit before tax rose by 13.6 per cent to N192bn from the N169bn recorded in 2017, the group’s profit before tax increased by 16.6 per cent to N232bn from N199bn in 2017.

Similarly, the bank’s profit after tax rose by 7.8 per cent to N165bn from N153bn in 2017, while that of the group increased by 10.9 per cent to N193bn from N174bn in 2017.

According to the chairman’s statement, the group’s total assets grew by 6.4 per cent from N5.60tn to N5.96tn, while shareholders’ fund increased by 0.5 per cent from N812bn to N816bn.

Heritage Bank urges start-ups to make Nigeria ICT hub

Heritage Bank Plc has urged applicants of HB Lab start-ups to support Nigeria’s aspiration and roadmap to become a leading Information and Communication  Technology hub in Africa.

In a statement, the Executive Director of the bank, Jude Monye, said this at the maiden edition of the new innovation-driven concept, HB LAB yesterday, in Lagos.

Monye commended the contestants who made it to the LAB, while urging them to replicate the Rwanda’s ICT digital tech system feats.

He canvassed for indigenous production of advanced technological systems, as against leaving the core job in the hands of foreigners.

Addressing the applicants, Monye said, as usual, the financial powerhouse was known for supporting and sponsoring investment ideas that had the potency of challenging the status quo with the motive of impacting positively on the critical sectors of the nation’s economy.

According to him, the management of Heritage Bank was always seeking viable business ideas that could compliment the fiscal policies of the government with the ultimate aim of growing and developing the aggregate economy.

He stated, “At Heritage Bank, we help aspiring entrepreneurs to create, preserve and transfer wealth. What we are gathered here for today, is another moment of innovation-driven concept that is expected to provide startup enterprises with enabling environment, resources and support required to innovate and accelerate impactful solutions for the economic development drives.”

For this maiden edition, Monye explained that Heritage Bank had ceded the professional handling of the 12-week competition to a consultancy firm.

According to him, this was done to allow for professionalism, fair-play and objectivity.

He stated that his management was not really particular about any sector of the economy, as the winner could emerge from any industry as long as his proposal was strong enough to impact positively on the various sectors.

“We are not zeroing in on any particular idea or industry; we are more interested in the result achievable in different sectors,” he stated.

About 154 applicants who applied were reviewed, 30 who made above average score and grouped into 10 teams, while at the end of the 12 weeks programme, it will produce the best Tech start-up as a team.

NIHSA to regulate underground water extraction

Image result for NIHSA to regulate underground water extractionThe Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency are conducting studies that will help regulate the manner in which underground water is being extracted across the country.

It was gathered in Abuja on Monday that the study would enable NIHSA to find out where the country had reasonable groundwater that could be extracted for various purposes.

The Director-General, NIHSA, Clement Nze, told our correspondent that the study was to further assist states in Nigeria that faced severe water supply challenges.

He said, “Our mandate cuts across surface and groundwater. Surface water refers to rivers, dams, lakes and seas. But when it comes to groundwater issues, we have realised that some parts of this country have water challenges, such that most of their water requirements are sourced through groundwater.

“Especially when you talk about areas in the Chad Basin like Maiduguri, Yobe, etc. Now the agency has been carrying out scientific studies of the groundwater resources potential in these areas. We’ve done a lot of studies in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency based in Vienna.”

Nze said the studies were under some specific isotope projects, adding that specialised techniques were used to be able to find out where Nigeria had reasonable groundwater resources.

He said, “Such studies can be able to tell you the age of the water you want to take from under the ground and if the water is too old, as the implication might be that it is not being recharged and that nothing is flowing into it and nothing is going out of it.

“And if we find out that the underground water is fresh, the study will enable us to know where the water is being recharged from or replenished. It tells us its quantity, how to extract the water from the ground and others.

“This is because if you are extracting water from the ground using boreholes and it is not being replenished adequately, if the rate of extraction is not controlled, you may end up causing water stress that won’t be suitable for you. So with this study,  we will be able to regulate the rate of extraction of water.”

He further stated that the agency was also carrying out water studies in coastal parts of Nigeria in order to advise citizens on where and how to drill boreholes.

Nze said, “We also have what we call the Saline Water Intrusion Studies in the coastal areas of Nigeria such as Lagos, Ondo, Rivers, Bayelsa and Ebonyi states. Some of these states are within the boundaries of the ocean.

“So saline water intrusion study enables us to advise people not to drill boreholes in some selected locations. And if you must drill in such areas, we can advise you on the depth.

“Not that when you dig down to about 300 meters you say you have found water. Yes, you may get water there but there’s a high possibility that it might be saline or salt water. But if you can go deeper, some even go deeper than 1km to be able to satisfy their water demands and get fresh water.”