Ecobank takes financial literacy to youths

Image result for EcobanklogoEcobank Nigeria says some of its senior staff members have embarked on mentoring students in various secondary schools across the country on the importance of savings as part of events marking 2017, World Savings Day.

At Government Girls Unity College, Damaturu, Yobe State, the Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Charles Kie, spoke on the theme: “Our future starts with savings”, the pan-African lender said in a statement on Thursday.

Kie emphasised the need for students and youths to imbibe savings culture, stating that it would enhance their financial independence and empowerment in life.

Kie, who was represented by the Area Manager, North East, Public Sector, Umar Bako, tutored the students on effective resource management, benefits of saving for the future and various financial planning techniques, the statement added.

He added that it was part of Ecobank’s contributions to safeguarding the future of the younger generation.

He said, “Savings is very important for you. It does not only help you to be financially independent but also secures your future.”

Petrobras, BTG Pactual to sell Nigerian oil venture

Image result for State-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras)State-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) is leading an effort to sell Petrobras Oil and Gas BV (Petrobras Africa), after being joined in the sale by shareholders Grupo BTG Pactual SA and Helios Investments.

Heavily indebted Petrobras announced plans this week to sell its 50 per cent stake, and began sending information on the company to potential investors, Reuters reported on Thursday.

It has been joined in the sale by BTG Pactual E&P BV, a subsidiary of investment bank Grupo BTG Pactual SA, and Helios Investments, who will offer their respective 40 per cent and 10 per cent stakes.

The Grupo BTG Pactual tried to sell its stake separately earlier this year. It held talks with a group of Nigerian investors but failed to reach an agreement, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. BTG Pactual did not immediately comment.

Petrobras, the world’s most indebted oil company and focus of a massive corruption scandal, is seeking to offload $21bn in assets through 2018 and has moved aggressively to cut debt.

Petrobras Africa participates in two deepwater oil exploration blocks off the coast of Nigeria that contain the Akpo and Agbami producing fields and are operated by Total SA and Chevron Corp respectively.

FG woos investors to N4.8bn truck transit parks

Image result for Tweet   Share  Pin it  +1 Transport Minister, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.

The Federal Government is targeting collaboration with private investors in developing truck transit parks estimated to cost over N4.8bn in different parts of the country.

The objective of establishing the parks is to address the menace of truck congestion at the seaports and the indiscriminate parking on road shoulders and access ramps on road corridors across the country.

To get the private sector to buy into the project, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council on Thursday in Lagos held a breakfast meeting with stakeholders where the government highlighted the opportunities in the parks as well as inland dry ports, and explored ways of raising private capital for their development.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated that the Federal Government had provided institutional and legal framework for the establishment of the TTPs through the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan 2014-2043, and designated them as priority projects.

He said feasibility studies had been conducted for the establishment of the TTPs in Lokoja, Kogi State; Obollo-Afor, Enugu State; Ogere, Ogun State; Jebba, Kwara State; Port Novo Creek, Lagos State; and Umunede, Delta State.

“These locations and others to be identified from time to time, in addition to the Ore Sunshine City and others being planned by the Kaduna State Government are alternative strategies to address the menace of truck congestion at the seaports and the indiscriminate parking on road shoulders and access ramps on road corridors across the country,” Amaechi explained.

The minister noted that due to paucity of funds and competing needs for the available limited resources, the government would not be able to solely fund the establishment of the parks, hence the decision to go into Public-Private Partnerships with private investors to realise the projects.

He stated, “The Federal Government is desirous of entering into long-term contractual relationship with private investors to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the TTPs on concession agreements. The potential long-term gain in lower life-cycle cost, efficiency and effectiveness in delivery, operations and maintenance of the TTPs are the incentives for government to situate them in a dynamic legal framework and enforcement capable of not only sustainable investment, but getting adequate return for investors.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Infrastructure, Olukolade Sofola, said rather than see challenges in Nigeria’s infrastructure sector, there were tremendous opportunities that investors could take advantage of.

Transportation, according to him, has to be addressed in an integrated way to enhance the diversification of the nation’s economy.

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who spoke on orderliness on Nigerian roads, lamented that roads in the country had been turned into slaughter slabs because of their poor state and recklessness of drivers.

He stated that while he was a lecturer at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) between 1975 and 1984, the Ibadan-Ife Road used to record accidents on daily basis claiming lives.

While commending the initiative to establish the TTPs, Soyinka stated that drivers in the country did not have the understanding that their vehicles were lethal weapons that must be regularly tested and certified fit for the road.

“We need to make the drivers feel as human beings; that they are part of the civilised human society and not sleeping by the roadside,” he added.

The Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Oscar Onyema, said the bourse was ready to support the establishment of the TTPs and inland dry ports with funds if the impediments to doing so were removed.

He stated that it had been estimated that the funding gap for infrastructure in the country was $750bn over 30 years and that $25bn would be required annually, adding that government budgets could not finance such, rather private capital would need to come to the rescue.

According to him, the NSE is committed to exploring innovative ways to funding infrastructure in the country and advised the government and other stakeholders to leverage special purpose vehicles to finance infrastructural projects through bond issuance.

Onyema said the Exchange would soon raise N200bn in infrastructure debt fund ideal for the TTPs and other projects.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Adamu Aliero, stated that the government had no business running the dry ports and the TTPs, adding that the National Assembly would come up with strong legislation to back their establishment and operation in order to ensure their viability.

The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways, Mr. Pat Asadu, said alternative finance models had to be explored to develop transport infrastructure as handouts from annual budgets were no longer adequate.

He added that the legislature would make laws to protect investments by foreign and local investors in the country.

Budget: N2tn debt service provision unsustainable, says LCCI

Image result for Budget: N2tn debt service provision unsustainable, says LCCIThe Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has described as unsustainable the debt service provision of N2.014tn in the 2018 budget proposal submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The LCCI, however, commended the commitment of the government to the restoration of the January-December budget cycle, saying it would be good for planning purposes both in the public and private sectors of the economy.

It, therefore, appealed to the National Assembly to ensure a speedy consideration of the appropriation bill in order to normalise the budgetary cycle.

The Director-General, LCCI, Mr. Muda Yusuf, said this would enhance predictability and confidence of investors in the economic management process.

He noted that the 2018 budget proposal of N8.6tn represented an increase of 16 per cent over that of 2017.

“The debt service provision of N2.014tn is 82.6 per cent of total capital allocation and 30 per cent of total revenue. This is clearly on the high side and not sustainable,” he said.

The group said it appreciated the efforts of the government to rebalance the debt portfolio in the light of increasing burden of debt service on its finances and the crowding-out effect of its borrowing on the private sector.

It described the outlook of the macro-economic fundamentals as positive, with the external reserves at $34bn as of October, declining inflation and stability of the exchange rate.

“We welcome the proposal by the government to consolidate on this positive outlook,” Yusuf said.

Noting that the exchange rate assumption of N305 to the dollar was unrealistic, he added, “For all practical purposes, the exchange rate in the economy is between N350 and N365 to the dollar.

“We appreciate the fact that 30.8 per cent of the budget will be allocated to capital projects. The emphasis on infrastructure spending is also being sustained.”

He highlighted the need to further reduce the cost of governance; scale up remittances of surpluses from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies to the coffers of government; refocus the tax drive from direct to indirect taxes in line with the National Tax Policy; and curb the growing incidence of multiplicity of taxes and levies on businesses at all levels of government.

The LCCI DG added, “We welcome the priority accorded to infrastructure in the budget proposal focusing on roads, railways, power projects, water projects and the second Niger Bridge. We welcome the decision to connect the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line to the Apapa and the Tin-Can Island ports. But time is of the essence.

“There is an urgent need to save the private sector and investors from the agony of persistent gridlock at the Apapa and Tin-Can ports, which account for over 70 per cent of import and export cargoes in the country.”

While noting the assurance of Buhari on the redemption of the promises made to the oil-producing areas of the Niger Delta, Yusuf said, “We commend the renewed commitment to accelerate the ease of doing business reforms. These and more will facilitate the progress and stability of the economy.”

He noted that it was imperative to put in place policies to mobilise private sector capital into the infrastructure space, adding that this should include the broad spectrum of policies like tax, monetary, trade and investment.

“Policy choices that create rent opportunities and distortions should be avoided. The principles of transparency, equity and level playing field should be observed at all times. This is critical for the sustenance of investor confidence,” he said.

The LCCI stressed the need for clarifications on the status of the budgetary appropriation for petroleum subsidy, both for the current fiscal year and 2018.

“It is also necessary to throw some light on the status of the estimated N800bn debt to oil marketers. Investors in this sector would like to see a sustainable framework for the management of petrol subsidy,” Yusuf added.

According to him, there is also a need for clarification on the status of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria’s debt estimated at about N5tn within the debt management framework of the government and framework for payment of contractor arrears, which cut across various MDAs.

“The non-payment of the contractor arrears has taken a huge toll on many contractors. Amount involved has been estimated at over N1tn,” he said.

CBN expands Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, releases N45bn

Image result for Tweet   Share  Pin it  +1 CBN logoThe Central Bank of Nigeria says it has formed strategic partnerships with agricultural commodity associations in the country in its effort to expand the implementation of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

The Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said in a statement that the decision to enter into strategic partnerships was to consolidate on the gains of the ABP and reach more deserving small holder farmers nationwide.

He said the ABP had so far achieved success in terms of outreach and coverage, making it one of the most successful CBN development finance interventions to date.

According to him, about N45.5bn has been released through 13 participating financial institutions in respect of over 218,000 farmers cultivating nine commodities across 30 states.

He said, “The CBN is forming these partnerships to further ramp up domestic production of identified commodities by leveraging the existing organised structures of the agricultural associations nationwide, thereby providing huge economics of scale in the implementation of the programme.”

Okorafor said the strategic partnership had begun to yield results with the commencement of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Programme with the Bank of Agriculture, where about 300,000 rice farmers across 20 States would be supported during the upcoming dry season cultivation.

He said an additional two million metric tonnes of paddy rice was expected to be produced under the RIFAN ABP.

He added that the partnership with RIFAN was in tandem with the Federal Government’s agenda for Nigeria to be self-sufficient in rice production in the future.

Okorafor further said that all registered agricultural commodity associations could key into this strategic partnership by simply approaching any of the participating financial institutions collaborating with the CBN in the implementation of the programme.

Lagos opens new road into LASUTH

Image result for Tweet   Share  Pin it  +1 AmbodeThe Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Wednesday inaugurated a new road linking the premises of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital from Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way in Ikeja.

Ambode, who also inspected the progress of work on the LASUTH Maternity Hospital, popularly known as Ayinke House, instructed contractors handling the project to deliver in six months.

Ambode expressed delight at the completion of the road, saying it would ensure faster access to medical care.

He said, “We realised that just one entrance into LASUTH is too dangerous. It has been like that for almost three or four decades; but we are happy to open another access road to boost the process of saving lives.

“Patients can come in ambulance, but they can be held up in traffic for almost 30 minutes and unable to disembark. However, this road will remove the tragedy that may occur through such delay. In another five to six months, we will be back here to make the Ayinke House functional.”

Ambode, who also inspected ongoing projects across the state, ordered additional projects such as a lounge and canteen for families of patients as well as Ear, Nose and Throat Department in the ongoing upgrade and expansion of the Alimosho General Hospital.

The Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Adewale Oke, commended Ambode for his commitment to the health sector.

The Provost of the Lagos State University College of Medicine, Prof. Babatunde Sholagbero, also thanked the governor for facilitating the accreditation of Dentistry Department of the institution, saying such had made LASU the only state university in Nigeria that offered bachelor of dentistry degree.

China signs $37bN deal to buy 300 Boeing planes

Image result for China signs $37bN deal to buy 300 Boeing planes

China signed an agreement Thursday to buy 300 airplanes from US aerospace giant Boeing valued over $37 billion, as part of a multi-billion dollar raft of deals announced during President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing.

The agreement for China Aviation Suppliers Holding Co (CASC) to buy the single-aisle and twin-aisle aircraft was among the more than $250 billion in agreements announced at a ceremony attended by Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

A Boeing statement said the agreement includes “orders and commitments” to buy the aircraft, but it did not give a further breakdown.

In September 2015, Boeing had already received an order from CASC for 300 aircraft valued at a record $38 billion at list prices.

Boeing and European rival Airbus are competing heavily in China, the world’s second aircraft market, with the US company forecasting that the Asian giant needs over 7,200 commercial aircraft in the next 20 years.

China, meanwhile, has developed its own medium-haul C919 in a bid to challenge the Airbus-Boeing duopoly.

Saraki taunts sacked SGF, says days of balderdash over

Image result for Tweet   Share  Pin it  +1 Senate President, Bukola SarakiThe Senate has said that, based on the smooth relationship, which the newly appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, has established with the chamber, it will allow a gentleman’s discussion on the alleged illegal extension of the tenure of the Chairman of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba.

This was sequel to the adoption of a motion moved by Senator Emmanuel Paulker (Bayelsa-Central) at the plenary on Wednesday, which was entitled, ‘The Illegal Extension of the Tenure of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission.’

In the motion, Paulker alleged that the former acting SGF, Dr. Habiba Lawal, who succeeded Babachir Lawal, allegedly extended the tenure of the former Majority Leader of the Senate as chairman of the NDDC board without legislative approval.

The Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, however, said he had met with officials in the Office of the SGF to know the circumstances surrounding the tenure extension.

Lawan said, “I want to appeal to all of us here that since we have a new SGF who wants to work with us, in the spirit of this season and the interest showed by the SGF that he wants to deal with this issue, I will advise and move that we ask our Committee on the NDDC to liaise with the Office of the SGF to look into the real issues so that we can deal with them.”

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, while commenting on the motion, made a veiled reference to the former SGF, Babachir Lawal, who dismissed his indictment by an investigative panel set up by the chamber as balderdash.

Saraki said, “Yesterday, after the budget (presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari), paper from the SGF coming to thank us, he also took this matter up. And I think that, in the spirit of the relationship, we are not here to always antagonise the executive. The days of balderdash are over. We have a new SGF and we must also show that. Let this matter be referred to the NDDC committee and let it take the matter up with the SGF.”

The initial prayer of the motion, as moved by Paulker, was to mandate the Senate Committee on Niger Delta “to investigate the illegal renewal of the tenure of the present board of the commission.”

In the motion, Paulker said the NDDC had a board made up of members drawn from Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers states.

He also said that Section 4 of the NDDC Act stated that the office of the chairman shall rotate among member states of the commission in alphabetical order.

He added that the chairmanship of the NDDC started with Abia State and had now rotated to Cross River State.

Paulker said, “The Senate observes that the NDDC Act also states that ‘where a vacancy occurs in the membership of the board, it shall be filled by the appointment of a successor to hold office for the remainder of the term of his predecessor, so, however, that the successor shall represent the same interest and shall be appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces subject to the confirmation of the Senate in consultation with the House of Representatives’.

“The Senate observes that the board headed by Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) was appointed by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to replace the one headed by Senator Bassey Henshaw.

“The Senate observes further that Section 5 (3) of the Act dictates that the board headed by Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba serves out the remainder of the term of the board chaired by Senator Bassey Henshaw, which will terminate in December 2017.

“The Senate notes that, contrary to the clear provisions of Section 5 (3) of the NDDC Act, the tenure of the present board of the commission has been illegally extended to four years by the immediate past acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr. Habiba Lawal; it is worried that contravention of the NDDC Act portends grave danger to the relative peace we enjoy in the Niger Delta.”

Maina: Kyari, Oyo-Ita reconcile, embrace publicly

Image result for Maina: Kyari, Oyo-Ita reconcile, embrace publiclyThe Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari and the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, on Wednesday embraced publicly before the commencement of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The development came a week after the two top government officials engaged in an altercation at the same venue.

Oyo-Ita on arrival at the council chambers’ venue for the meeting went straight to greet Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

She was still discussing with Osinbajo when Kyari arrived.

All smiles, Kyari and Oyo-Ita embraced as cameramen struggled to get good shots of the public display of reconciliation.

Other members of the council clapped for them as the drama unfolded.

A heated argument had taken place between the two officials last week.

The altercation was believed to be the fallout of the leaked memo, which Oyo-Ita sent to Kyari on the controversial reinstatement and subsequent posting of the embattled former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina.

The clash between the two officials took place in the presence of Osinbajo; President of the Senate,  Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, John Odigie-Oyegun; service chiefs and ministers.

The leaked memo, titled, ‘Re: Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina,’ was Oyo-Ita’s response to President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that she should investigate the circumstances that surrounded the return of Maina to the civil service.

He gave the directive following the public outcry that greeted Maina’s reinstatement.

Maina, whose whereabouts are still unknown, has been accused of embezzling pensioners’ funds running into billions of naira and is under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The memo started by stating, “Further to your letter Ref. SH/COS/100/A/1570 dated 23rd October, 2017 on the above subject matter, I write to inform you of the circumstances leading to the irregular recall of Mr. Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina.

“I wrote to place on record the following facts as it pertains to Mr. A. A. Maina who was dismissed from service on 21st February, 2013.

“The move to recall Mr. A. A. Maina was at the instance of a series of letters from the Attorney General of the Federation to the Federal Civil Service Commission requesting the commission to give consequential effect to the judgment that voided the warrant of arrest issued against Mr. A. A. Maina which formed the basis for the query and his eventual dismissal.”

It concluded, “Please note that the OHCSF was never in agreement with the reinstatement and consequently never conveyed the approval of the FCSC to Mr. A. A. Maina nor approved his posting to the Ministry of Interior or any other MDA. Rather, I sought audience with His Excellency, Mr. President, on Wednesday, 11th October, 2017 after the FEC meeting where I briefed His Excellency verbally on the wide-ranging implications of the reinstatement of Mr. A. A. Maina, especially the damaging impact on the anti-corruption stance of this administration.”

Abuja airport set for NCAA safety certification

Image result for Tweet   Share  Pin it  +1 Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, AbujaThe Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja will before the end of this week get safety and security certification from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, a source close to the regulatory organisation has said.

According to the source, the airport, which began operations about 15 years ago, recently got a pass mark in security, safety and equipment from the NCAA, adding that the certification process began in 2014.

The NCAA was said to be satisfied with the several manuals submitted to its inspectors by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, operator of the airport.

The source added, “There are five stages involved in airport certification. The fifth stage is the presentation of certificate to the management of FAAN, which is slated for this week.

“With the successful certification, Abuja will now be the second airport in the country to be certified by the authority. The Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos was the first to be certified by the NCAA in September.”