FG Committed To Develop Capital Market  – Minister

By Andy Nssien
 
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed says the Federal Government is committed to the development of the Nigerian capital market as a strategy to revamp the nation’s economy.
 
She spoke at the award night organized by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) for chairmen and members of the Capital Market Master Plan committees held in Lagos on Tuesday.
 
The Minister said the government was ready to support any initiative by SEC that would lead to reviving the market and the economy as a whole.
 
Noting that the capital market is a veritable platform for development of the economy, Ahmed said the capital market strategic plan  dove-tailed into the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Programme.
 
Earlier in her welcome address, the Acting Director of SEC, Mary Uduk said the 10-year strategic plan (2015 – 2025) was borne out of the need to develop a world class market, promote inclusion, realign the roles of stakeholders in line with global practice.
 
She said so far, much had been achieved in the areas of dematerialization,, recapitalization, financial literacy, e-dividend mandate, tax incentives and programme, national savings strategy, enhancing the commodities trading eco-system and streamlined bond issuance process.
 
Other areas which impact has been made are; review of major laws (ISA, CAMA etc), enhancing market liquidity, facilitating the establishment of a credit enhancement facility, electronic initial public offerings, amongst others.
 
Uduk said the award night was meant to recognize and appreciate the untiring efforts of the chairmen and committee members who had made immense sacrifice and contribution to the successful execution of the  plan.
 
Some of the notable achievements include the e-dividend management system, full dematerialization of certificates in the market, improved ease of doing business as well as creation of non-interest capital market products.
 
Achievement on the e-dividend mandate include; development of the e-dividend mandate management  system (e-DMMS) portal, integration of over 2.6 million mandated accounts into the e-DMMS for the e-dividend payment, payment of dividends directly into investors mandated bank accounts instead of posting dividend warrants.
 
Also achieved was the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) approval of dividends payment to investors of unclaimed dividends that accrue over time on each mandated accounts that were not status barred.
 
The night’s  programme also featured amongst others, presentations by Ms Daisy Ekineh, an erstwhile acting director general and chairman, Roadmap on Commodities Eco-system; and Olutola Mobolurin, chairman, Capital Market Master Plan Implementation Council (CAMMIC).
Declare Nationwide Data of Permanent Voters Cards Collection, BudgIT Tells INEC

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Without any travesty, the administrative and political tensions surrounding the 2019 general elections are manifest threats to free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.

In the presence of contentious accusations of rigging – flying from both sides of the political divide – coupled with the abrupt ‘logistic’ failure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), we are deeply worried about the secrecy in which the major data that can safeguard the elections from possible manipulations is being confined.

According to the electoral commission, there are 84 million registered voters for the general elections. However, questions from both local and international observers remain: What is the total number of collected voters cards across the country?

It is instructive that “84 million registered voters” is vague and susceptible to manipulation the very moment Nigerians are barred from the actual data of collected PVCs. Fifty-two million as of February 17, 2015, this data was published – regular updates in fact – in the last elections. The hesitation today by INEC to do the needful casts immense doubts around its integrity, therefore, the credibility of the upcoming elections.

We’re calling, once again, on INEC to publish immediately the total number of voters cards collected in all states. In the pursuance of fair elections, this is the right thing. Nigerians should, amidst many uncertainties, have data of expected votes.

CBN, NPA, Fidelity Bank Win NEPAC Awards

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By Andy Nssien

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA and Fidelity bank Plc, were among the corporate organizations who emerged the winners of the maiden Nigerian Eminent Personalities and Corporates (NEPAC) Awards,

The award was instituted to recognize and honour individuals and organisations that have contributed significantly to the growth of the economy.

Fidelity Bank Plc emerged Best Bank in Corporate Social Responsibility; Central Bank of Nigeria, Best Public Sector Institution in Agriculture Financing; and Nigerian Ports Authority as winner, Best Public Institution in Trade Facilitation and Transparency.

Other winners are Babatunde Raji Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing who was awarded Outstanding Performance in Road Construction and Rehabilitation; Comrade Joe Ajero, President, United Labour Congress bagged the award for Leadership Excellence in Workers’ Rights Advocacy; Tincan Ports Customs Command received an award for Outstanding  Performance in Trade Facilitation and Enforcement; Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), for Outstanding Contribution in Foreign Exchange Rate Stabilization; while the  Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), was named Best Public Sector Institution in Maritime Safety and Security; just as Nigerian Breweries Plc received the Outstanding Leadership In Sports Sponsorship award.

The  event which held at the Sheraton Lagos Hotel and Towers, Ikeja was preceded by a lecture titled, “Diversification: Path To Sustainable Economic Recovery and Growth” delivered by the Director-General, West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management  (WAIFEM), Prof. Akpan Hogan Ekpo.

Ekpo stressed the need for the Government to play active role in diversifying the Nigerian economy through formulating and implementing strategies for the policy.

He said, it was the strategic thinking of government that would excite the private sector to want to invest in various areas  of the economy (diversification), contribute to growth and make profit.

”The private sector is an engine of growth and not development – the latter is second best.  It is government that is an engine of development utilizing the benefits of growth to ensure equity and fairness. It is government that is concerned about education, health, employment, poverty and inequality, not the private sector,” Ekpo, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom, stated.

However, for the economic diversification to be effective and sustainable there must be good governance embracing an economic blue-print which stressed development as top priority, he said.

The WAIFEM boss identified key economic drivers for successful diversification to include, economic blue-print, quality of leadership, macroeconomic stability, political will, capacity building and training, competitive federalism, peace and stability, amongst others.

He said there was need for a clear economic blue-print with the understanding that the federal government and states had agreed to foster economic co-operation among their respective states, even as the economic thrust of the co-operating states might be different from that of the government at the center.

A visionary leader, he stated, would galvanize the citizens for development, adding that his/her approach to governance would elicit support and enthusiasm from the followership.

“The positive attributes of a good leader would permeate all other levels of leadership. Leadership within the context of good governance would drive the diversification process in the country,” he added.

Ekpo stated that macroeconomic stability was essential for diversification to take place, explaining, “the economy must be managed to ensure moderate inflation, ensuring that macroeconomic fundamentals move in the right direction. This would enable potential and domestic investors to plan and weigh costs and benefits of investing in Nigeria.”

Stressing the import of political will, he said, “This is both a necessary and secondary condition for economic diversification to be effective and sustainable.  Without political will, diversification would remain an exercise in futility.’

Justifying the need for diversification, the former university don stated that the sluggish growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the high rates of unemployment and inflation, rising misery indices, non-performance of the manufacturing sector, traditional agricultural practice, high incidence of poverty, among others pointed to the need to diversify the Nigerian economy.

The NEPAC awards is brainchild of Nigeria’s leading business and financial journal BusinessUpdate, with an online platform (www.businessupdatereports.com).

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Nigeria Ranks 33rd In Africa’s Governance Index

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Nigeria was reported to have scored 47.9 in overall governance, ranking 33rd out of 54 African countries covered in the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance.

Published by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the 2018 Index of African Governance was launched during a live event on Monday.

According to the report, though Nigeria improved in ranking from 35 in 2017 to 33 in 2018, the country’s overall score however dropped from 48.1 to 47.9 which is lower than the African average of 49.9 and also lower than the West African average of 54.3.

The Index of African Governance report also showed that Nigeria received its highest category score in Participation and Human rights scoring 53.2 and its lowest score in Sustainable Economic Opportunities in which it scored 43.5.

The report reflected further that the country recorded her highest sub-category score in Participation scoring 62.7 and its lowest in Transparency and Accountability, scoring 34.5.

The 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance covered data from 2008-2017 inclusive for 54 African countries.

Commenting on the 2018 Index report, Mo Ibrahim, Chairman of the Foundation said: “There are many positive trends emerge from this year’s Index. Fifteen countries out of the 34 who register progress in Overall Governance over the last decade even manage to accelerate their pace of improvement in the last five years.

“Among those, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, and Kenya display the most impressive progression, stepping up from 41st, 25th and 19th to 22nd, 15th and 11th ranks over the past decade.

“On average on the continent, improvements in indicators related to Health and Infrastructure stand out. There are also recent and welcome improvements in Rule of Law and Transparency & Accountability, even if scores in the latter are still low,” Ibrahim added.

CSOs call for Alpha Beta Probe Over Tax Evasion Allegation

A coalition of civil society organizations under the aegis of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) has call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to begin probe of the alleged N100 billion tax evasion and money laundering levelled against Alpha Beta Consulting Ltd., Alpha Beta LLP and Ocean Trust Ltd.

A former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the consulting firm,  Mr. Dapo Apara, had last month accused the company given exclusive rights to monitor and collect Internally Generated Revenue on behalf of the Lagos State Government, of tax fraud to the tune of N100 billion.

In a petition forwarded to the EFCC and signed by CSNAC’s Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, the network urged the anti-graft agency to immediately begin investigation into the allegation in furtherance of the government’s will in its call for citizens’ participation in governance and fight against corruption.

The group stated inter alia: “Following the breaking news on Sahara Reporters dated September 7, 2018, and captioned ‘Tinubu’s Alpha Beta accused of N100bn money laundering, tax evasion fraud’, we write to urge you to use your good offices, in collaboration with the Federal Inland Revenue Services, to dauntlessly and without fear or favour launch an urgent and immediate investigation into the allegations contained in the said report with a view to proving to the Nigerian populace that the current administration’s fight against corruption is transparent and executed without concerns about whose ox is gored.

“Speculations are that the company belongs to Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the ex-governor of Lagos State and ‘National Leader’ of the ruling party or that he is a major shareholder in the company, as Alpha Beta first became known when it was appointed as a consultant to the Lagos State Government, under the tenure of Babatunde Fowler as the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue from 2005 to 2014”, it added.

Noting further that since Apara’s allegations were made public last month, the Lagos State Government has not made any comments or taken steps to investigate the issues raised, the civil society coalition pointed out that the state never denied claims that the company takes about 10 percent of the state’s IGR, estimated to be  about N40 billion monthly as at 2016.

The group stated further: “Recall that we also wrote a petition to your office sometime in March, 2018, with respect to the use of fishy companies to aid corruption by the ‘feudal lords’ in Lagos State by diverting public resources into private holdings.

“Mr Apara, according to the aforementioned publication, stated that over the years, the company is being protected and shielded by some powerful politicians and people in the society which made them to always boast of being untouchable”, CSNAC added.

Air Peace Lagos-Owerri flight makes air return

Domestic airline, Air Peace, said on Friday that its Lagos-Owerri Flight 7252 returned to Lagos following loss of cabin pressure in the aircraft on Thursday. The Corporate Communications Manager, Air Peace, Chris Iwarah, who confirmed the incident in a statement, said the flight crew observed that there was a change in cabin pressure and decided to make an air return. He stated, “In line with our standard operating procedure, the captain-in-command descended to a level where it would be comfortable for our valued guests, before making a return to base in line with global best practices in the aviation industry. “Upon safely landing in Lagos, our guests on board, who had remained calm, were quickly transferred to an alternate aircraft and flown to Owerri. We regret the inconvenience and discomfort caused our esteemed guests on board the flight. “We wish to assure members of the public that the incident had nothing whatsoever to do with the engines of the aircraft nor was it a life-threatening situation.” According to him, the aircraft has since been checked, confirmed serviceable and returned back into operation in less than an hour after going for maintenance checks. “Air Peace is renowned for its quality maintenance reputation and we assure members of the flying public that we will continue to sustain the high standards of our flight operations and professionalism to guarantee the safety of our valued guests and crew,” Iwarah added.

EZINNE DOROTHY OSAMGBI FOR BURIAL

Death has been announced of Ezinne (Mrs.) Dorothy Ndukoso Osamgbi (Nee Eluemunor), of Nnikwu, Umuaji Quarters, Asaba. She was aged 85years.

A devout Christian of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, she was a successful business woman and an accomplished civil servant, who retired from the services of the then Bendel State Hospital Management Board.

In a press statement signed by her son Mr. Isichei Osamgbi, Deputy Director and Head of Public Relations of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), her burial rites, as announced by the family, begins on Thursday, October 25, 2018, with a vigil Mass at 5pm, at The Catholic Church of Assumption, Zappa, Asaba, Delta State. Her funeral Mass, holds at 10am on Friday, October 26, 2018 at the same Church, while Reception holds at St. Brigid’s Girls Grammar School, Umuaji Quarters, Asaba, after interment.

A thanksgiving Mass holds on Sunday, October 28 at the same church. As part of the burial obsequies, the traditional rites begin at Asaba, in her family compound at Nnikwu, Umuaji Quarters and later at Abuedo Quarters Ubulu-Uku on October 27th and 29th October 2018, respectively.

She is survived by her husband, Ogbueshi Alex Chukwuma Osamgbi, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

She was a women leader, a bridge builder as well as a hard-working community leader, who lived her life for the good of others and epitomised service to humanity.

As a lover of children and believer in education as the greatest gift to a child, she exemplified discipline, commitment to hard work and above all, she lived in the fear of God. She was a believer in family values and used every opportunity she had to mentor and help anyone she could support beyond her immediate family; hence she was better know and addressed as “Area Mama” – The People’s Mother!

Customs Senior Officers Promotion Tests postponed indefinitely, Amid Anger, Confusion

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There confusion and somewhat panic after a long scheduled promotion examination for the next generation of top management personnel was abruptly cancelled after all the 1,164 officers were already gathered at the Abuja headquarters of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) at 7 o clock  Monday morning.

Officers from the level of Superintendent to Deputy Comptrollers had been summoned to the Customs headquarters in Abuja for the written promotion which was to be conducted under the auspices of JAMB.

As late as Friday, October 19, 2018, the affected officers had been issued a memo affirming that the test will hold today and given directives on procedures to be observed.

The first screening exercise scheduled for 7am was for the 129 deputy comptrollers due for promotion to the rank of Comptrollers of Customs. However, after all the candidates were already seated awaiting the commencement of the test, an assistant comptroller general in charge of human resources, Mr AOB Fatade, just entered  the JAMB centre and without explanation, announced that the exercise has been called off.

“He just told us that the screening will no longer hold and has been postponed indefinitely,” one of the candidates said. No reason was given to us, there was no explanation, absolutely nothing. There was total confusion. Imagine the situation where all the officers in the affected cadres were already waiting,” the officer, a deputy comptroller, said.

Many of the officers were furious with the abrupt suspension of the screening as the exercise had been in the works for over two months. “I’m sad. This is very frustrating. Up to last Friday, they told us everything was set and we had already been accredited and seated in the examination hall before the suspension was announced,” another candidate snapped in anger.

The development has elicited an air of confusion and apprehension within the Customs hierarchy. For the candidates, some are concerned that the exercise may be put off for a considerable time. “When this sort of thing happens at a time like this, it is ominous. This is the season of politics and any unsavoury thing can be done when politics is involved,” an assistant comptroller and one of the candidates told BMWA.

In the absence of any official explanation, speculations on what may have prompted the sudden postponement range from tardiness on the part of the organisers to management ineptitude.

Other candidates are, however, concerned on the costs, logistical and financial, of their coming to Abuja for the botched interview. “I came from Borno State for this interview. No allowance was paid to us and none is promised anyway. I had to raise money for transportation, feeding and hotel accommodation and now this, the service didn’t make any provision for these,” a chief superintendent lamented.

Some of the candidates were said to have been involved in auto accident while on their way to Abuja with some fatalities.

However, BMWA could not confirm the identity of the people involved.

In the memo issued to the candidates on Friday, they had been directed not to come with any form of writing materials, including biros, laptops and tablets except the forms duly signed by their Comptrollers or sectional heads. All writing materials were to be provided by the Customs.

The memo with a reference NCS/ABJ/HRD/560/C/VOL.VIII, dated 17th October, 2018, had stated that “promotions will be based on merit and standing as determined by competitive examination”.

In a bid to give credence and transparence to the promotion examinations, the management of the Customs had engaged the services of JAMB to conduct the tests in an environment that is CCTV compliant. The candidates were warned that “any person caught cheating or involved in any form of examination malpractice or act of indiscipline will be severely sanctioned as stipulated in CEMA”.

Those that came for the promotion interview were 129 deputy comptrollers, 307 assistant comptrollers, 538 chief superintendents and 190 superintendents.

CBN Urged To Revisit ATM Card Maintenance Charges

The Senate on Wednesday after much debate has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to look into the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) maintenance and withdrawal charges by banks.
This was after a motion on “illicit and excessive charges by Nigerian banks in customers’ accounts” was raised by Senator Gbenga Ashafa during the plenary session on Wednesday.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu seconded the motion, saying: “The ATM charge is not the only charge we get from the bank, there are VAT charges and so on; this is unacceptable. We have the Customer Protection Agency in Nigeria, but they are not living up to expectations.”
The issue generated much debate on the floor of the Senate and after much deliberation, a few resolutions were made.
The Senate directed the committees on banking insurance and other financial institutions and finance to conduct an investigation into the propriety of ATM card maintenance charges in comparison with international best practices and report back to the Senate.
It also mandated the committees on banking, insurance and other financial institutions and finance to invite the CBN Governor to appear before the body in order to explain why the official charges as approved by the CBN are skewed in favour of the banking institutions as against the ordinary customers of the banks.
The lawmakers urged CBN to suspend the ATM card maintenance charges being deducted from customers’ accounts, just as they called on the CBN to instruct the commercial banks to configure their machines to extend to N40, 000 per withdrawal, pending the outcome of the investigation by the committees.
The Consumer Protection Council was called upon to be up and doing in taking up the plight of ordinary Nigerians by looking into the various complaints of excess and unnecessary charges by Nigerian banks

World Food Day 2018: PDU Scores National Home Grown School Feeding Programme High

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The Presidential Delivery Unit has called on Nigerians to patronise local producers, adopt nutritious diets, as well as support initiatives that provide sustenance for those in need.

Nigeria’s Presidential Delivery Unit (PDU) which celebrated the successes of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), one of the country’s four Social Investment Programmes, which continues to provide quality meals and nutritional interventions to primary school children, to increase enrollment and advance academic achievement – while providing economic opportunities for local cooks and supporting small farmers.

Themed “Zero Hunger,” in reference to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 2, World Food Day is observed annually on the 16th of October to foster global awareness and change for those suffering from hunger and malnutrition, while promoting food security. In support of this, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched a global call to leaders to accelerate action for Zero Hunger by the year 2030.

Ms. Nneka Folake Ikejiani, Senior Delivery Advisor, HGSF who gave the charge stated, “A well-nourished child will out-perform his or her peers who do not receive adequate nutrition, as the nutrients stemming from consistent, balanced meals fundamentally impact cognitive function, leading to improved academic achievement. By supporting the delivery of the National Home Grown School Feeding Program, the PDU has witnessed an increased enrolment of primary school students and a decrease in hunger and malnutrition among the poor.”

As evidenced by ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018’ report, 821 million people worldwide currently suffer chronic undernourishment[1].To address this, the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) aims to provide twelve million (12,000,000) Nigerian school children with free meals daily in all 36 states of the federation in 2018. To support this target, the Presidential Delivery Unit works to ensure prompt payment of cooks, regular daily feeding of children and the identification of delays in the system affecting efficient delivery.