CBN Cuts Interest Rate By 100 Basis Points To 12.5%

The Monetary Policy Committee of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has cut the benchmark lending rate to 12.5 per cent from 13.5 per cent, a move the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele said would stimulate growth in the  economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is the first rate cut since March 2019 and the largest since 2015.

Analysts believe the Committee took into account developments in the global  and domestic economy since its last meeting including the negative impact of COVID-19 on global growth. “Even on the domestic front the committee noted a sustained inflationary pressure April : +  8bps to 12.34 per cent y/y and a sustained  decline in manufacturing PMI”.

Seven of the 10 members of the bank’s monetary policy committee backed a 100 basis point cut, two voted for 150 basis points and one for 200 basis points, Emefiele said.

The country, a top oil exporter is facing economic challenges from the coronavirus outbreak and sharp falls in crude prices, which have triggered decline in growth.

Emefiele said the lower rate would “stimulate credit expansion to critically important sectors”, which in turn would also stimulate employment and revive economic activity for a quick recovery in economic growth.

The Federal Government government expects the economy to contract by as much as 8.9 per cent this year, but Emefiele said the country could avoid a recession.

He said the economy could contract in the second and third quarters but recover in the fourth with the fiscal and monetary policy measures put in place by the authorities.

The decision surprised analysts. The central bank has kept interest rates tight for the last two years to curb inflation, support the naira and attract foreign investors to its debt market.

“This is a surprise. Not least because, despite the central bank’s relative optimism on growth, the question is really around the potency of the MPR (monetary policy rate),” said Razia Khan, chief economist for Africa and Middle East at Standard Chartered

Fraud: BudgIT Wants  Speaker, Lagos State House Of Assembly Investigated

Mudashiru Obasa
Mudashiru Obasa
The nation’s antia anti-corruption agencies have been called upon to urgently investigate the series of reports directly implicating the speaker of the Lagos state House of Assembly over alleged misappropriation of public funds for personal use.
This call was made by BudgIT Foundation, a leading non-governmental organisation in the advocacy for openness, transparency and accountability in Nigeria.
A statement signed by BudgIT Communication Lead, Damilola Ogundipe and made available to BusinessUpdate noted that ;” the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, has been accused of financial impropriety and misappropriation of N257 million, N17 million and N53 million, with the latest of the same allegation being the receipt of N80 million estacode by himself, his deputy and 17 others for attending a five-day event in Dubai amidst the fight against COVID-19″.

According to BudgIT, “this allegation corroborates our claim that the legislative arm of government has been largely non-responsive to the calls for transparency and accountability both at the federal and state levels, and these present allegations deepen the culture of disregard for transparency in the management of public funds.

 ” Recall that we have severally called out even the National Assembly through the #OpenNASS campaign over the years regarding the lack of transparency with its statutory allocations. It is disheartening that lawmakers, both at the national and state levels, are not being held to the highest standards of scrutiny. It has become imperative to emphasize the need for both the national and state houses of assembly to be above board by entrenching a framework for fiscal transparency and accountability.”

 BudgIT through the Open Alliance Initiative, is at the forefront of advocacy for fiscal transparency in Lagos state, through the support of the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RoLAC) programme funded by the European Union being implemented by the British Council in five states; Adamawa, Anambra, Edo, Kano and Lagos.

” While the current administration has made some progress to #OpenLagos, it is important that fiscal transparency cuts across all arms of government and should be founded on a solid legislative framework”, BudgITsaid.

BudgIT urged ICPC and EFCC to be proactive in investigating these allegations, to show their seriousness in fighting corruption in the country, as well as to elevate public confidence in the government.

” We also encourage other Civil Society Organisations to be bold in their advocacy and commitment to an open and inclusive government that encourages accountability and foster development at the national and subnational levels.

” Every true system of democracy has as its core, accountability to the people. The national and state legislative houses have not lived up to this ideal and this has got to change”, BudgIT noted.

TinCan Island Port Deploys “Time Release Study Tool” For Trade Facilitation And Revenue Generation, Collects N17.84bn From Jan – April

Comptroller Musa
Comptroller Musa
In line with efforts to enhance revenue collection, the Tincan Island Port has beefed up its Trade Facilitation process with the deployment of “TIME RELEASE STUDY TOOL” for strategic planning in determining the actual time required for the Release and Clearance of goods, right from the time of arrival to physical release from Customs Control.
This among other measures was confirmed by the Customs Area Controller(CAC), in a recent chat with some Stakeholders.
The CAC explained that Time Release Study (TRS) a strategic tool is capable of identifying bottlenecks in the trade Value Chain and creating an enabling environment for effectiveness and efficiency in Operations.
He maintained that it is on the strength of this and other parameters that the Command generated a total of One Hundred and Seventeen Billion, Eight Hundred and Thirty-Nine Million, Four Hundred and Eighteen Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty-Two Naira and Sixteen Kobo Between January — April 2020,
despite the Global Pandemic which has posed a great challenge. The figure is against the sum of One Hundred and Six Billion, Six Hundred and Forty-Four Million, Six Hundred and Forty-Three Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventeen
Naira and Twenty-Five Kobo generated same period in 2019, reflecting a difference of Eleven Billion, One Hundred and Ninety-Four Million, Seven Hundred and Seventy-Four Thousand, Four Hundred and Fourteen Naira and Ninety-One Kobo
While responding to issues bothering on challenges amidst the Covid-19, the Comptroller reiterated the readiness of the Command to ensure adherence and compliance with the extant protocols by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) towards containing the Spread of the Virus. He disclosed that prior to the declaration of the Virus as a Pandemic Disease, the Command had conducted series of Seminars and awareness campaign, targeted at sensitizing the officers/men as well as Stakeholders on measures to adopt in dealing with the menace. These measures according to the CAC would be sustained even after the Post Covid-19 era.
“Even at the onset of this Pandemic when pressure, anxiety and general apprehension was the order of the day, the Command demonstrated resilience, sagacity and compassion in its approach to the novel Pandemic, such that tension was reduced from the psyche of the operatives with confidence inspired that enabled them to attend to their functions without let or hindrance”.
“With this Pandemic, the Command will upscale her sensitization on the need for Nigerians to fully take advantage of the operations in Export Trade, especially at this moment when it has become compelling for diversification of the Economy for National Development”.
“We use this medium to remind Nigerians to cease the opportunity of the numerous incentives by the Federal Government in the area of Export, to draw and attract the consciousness of Nigerians to the advantages in Export Trade”.
With the Time Release Studies Tool, we have generated statistical data on the actual time declarations were made up till the time of Release from Customs Control. It is on the basis of this, that the Command realized that the Nigeria Customs Service is only involved in two major functions in the Trade Value Chain (Examination and Release of Cargo) from Customs Control. The unwavering commitment of the Command necessitated the need to work assiduously towards
ensuring that all operational bottlenecks are removed from the Value Chain, for effectiveness and efficiency in accordance with Global Standards.
Seaking further, the CAC noted that inspite of the few challenges mitigating against it’s performance, he pointed out that the Command will not let its guards down in the pursuance of its official mandate.
He appreciated the support and counsel from the Customs Management led by Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) and his Management, while also applauding the renewed enthusiasm of the officers/men which is evidenced in the operational profile of the Command.
“The CAC, equally eulogized heads of Security and Regulatory Agencies in the Port for their consistent efforts at supporting the Command in realizing its statutory mandate.” “Also commended the Maritime Media both Print, Electronic and Online for their quality reportage of the happenings in the Sector”
Generally speaking, the CAC thanked the Stakeholders for their continuous engagement with the Command and requested the strengthening of the collaboration.

Zenith General Insurance Records PBT Increase Of 16%

Zenith General Insurance Limited has posted a full-year financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2019.
A review of the results showed positive improvements on a year-on-year basis with profit before tax rising by 16% from N3.16bn to N3.67bn while profit after tax inched up 10% from N2.79bn to N3.06bn.
The company also maintained a robust balance sheet closing the year with total assets of N40.1bn and a shareholders’ fund of N25.9bn.

Gross premium grew by 17% year-on-year from N13.7bn to N16.1bn, while underwriting profit grew hy 46% from N2.77bn to N4.06bn. The company made substantial gains from reduced claim expenses and healthy growth in gross written premiums.

On the same vein investment income moved up 2% year on year, up from N3.55bn in 2018 to N3.63bn in 2019 despite lower yields on most investment classes in 2019.

Commenting on the financial results, the Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Kehinde Borisade said “we are re-affirming our mission statement that Zenith General Insurance Ltd exists to ensure peace of mind and also create value to people in a world of uncertainties. This is evident in our strong financial performance showing improvement across the board through increased premium income, underwriting profits and investment income despite the economic headwinds witnessed in various sectors of the economy. We also ensured prompt settlement of claims with total claims payment of N3.8bn for the year and an average settlement turnaround time of three days.”

“our company has continued to maintain a very strong and healthy financial position with a growth of 6% year-on-year on total assets, and a 4% increase in shareholders’ funds. We also continue to strive to be the best in the insurance industry; maintaining the strongest solvency position and closing the year with a solvency ratio of 726%” he added.

Zenith Insurance, one of Nigeria’s leading insurance institutions is one of the first Insurance companies to have met the recapitalisation requirements of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) by recapitalising its share capital from N3bn to N10bn.

COVID-19: HOW Foundation Reaches Out To Isiokpo Communit

In support of government’s efforts at making living easier for the masses and as part of measure s to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,a non-governmental organization, Herbert Onyewumbu Wiwge, (HOW) Foundation, has put smiles on the faces of thousands of people in some communities in River State. Recently, the foundation distributed sundry foodstuffs and relief packages to several homes, families, and communities in the state, as part efforts to alleviate the debilitating effects of the lockdown and restrictions measures adopted by the Rivers State government r HOW Foundation’s activities in the state are basically to alleviate the effects of the lockdown, and by extension, aid the underprivileged people in the state to stay home as the lockdown begins. The foundation’s CEO, Ms. Antonia Ally made it known to the people of Isiokpo community and its environs that the NGO’s decision is to spread love and alleviate the effects of the lockdown on the people of Rivers State in general, and to connect with the mission statement of the non-profitable organization. According to her, the foundation had been feeding several homes and indigents in Lagos state for weeks and had now decided to extend this novel gesture to the good people of Isiokpo community and its environs. “We believe that majority of those that are alive today have never experienced a pandemic, and to cushion the effects of the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19, the HOW Foundation had made available palliatives to the people of Isokpo and its neighboring communities in River State,” she said. The founder of the foundation, Mr. Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe, also added that the serial distribution of foodstuffs to people is a conscious plan to tackle the post-pandemic effects. He said a lot of businesses have been badly affected and economies have been disrupted, and as a foundation, we have come to the aid of the people

COVID-19:  Sustainable Economic Growth Is Achievable Through SMEs’ Partnership, Rigorous Commitment To Business – Sekibo

fie sekibo
fie sekibo
In light of the sharp dwindling in the global economy occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo disclosed that with partnership, truth, chgaracter and rigorous commitment to businesses, the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can revamp the nation’s economy for sustainable growth.

He also stated that evidences have shown that for SMEs to continue to survive and remain the bedrock of any vibrant economy, the players must continuously reinvent themselves, complement each other, dream big, possess cutting edge ideas and think and rethink before venturing into businesses.

Speaking during a webinar session, a virtual conference platform at the Upgrade Summit 2020, on the theme, “Converting Ideas into Reality with Focus on SME’s” Sekibo emphasized the need for SMEs to look inward, learn and relearn, possess the spirit of self-sacrifice and believe, whilst advising that they must be bold and should not be afraid to fail because failing is not a failure and should not give up because they had failed.

According to him, most entrepreneurs burn with ideas but they need to mine them so that they could blossom, remarking that they need to have mentors that will enable them to achieve their goals and sell the ideas.

“Among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria, there has been too much of an individual focus, rather than a holistic or intergenerational focus. There is not enough focus on partnership among Nigerian SMEs and this causes ventures to fail,” Sekibo stated.

Meanwhile, he reiterated that more needed to be done in the area of empowering entrepreneurship sector by the government and financial institutions because it is an agent of development.

On Heritage Bank’s efforts so far, the MD/CEO affirmed that its philosophy does not rely on traditional banking metrics like growth in the number of accounts, but according to him, “one of our major cardinal point as a bank is supporting micro, small and medium scale businesses and our strong desire to see young men and women succeed in any area of their business. This will help the society and economy to grow, thereby moving the nation from poverty occasioned by Covid-19 to prosperous economy,” he added.

Sekibo, however, hinted that SMEs could take advantage of its products for seamless banking transactions to boost their businesses like Stockit, HBPadie and the newly launched 24/7 alternate electronic platform via USSD Code *745#.

“We have encouraged SMEs and customers alike to adopt the self-service platforms like *745*0# for balance enquiry, Funds Transfer (Within Heritage Bank): *745*1*Amount*Account Number#, self-airtime recharge: *745*Amount#, third party airtime recharge: *745*Amount*Mobile Number# and change pin: *745*00#,” he said.

He further explained that the entrepreneur schemes of the bank in the support for business had always focused on dependable job-creating sectors such as the agricultural value chain: fish farming, poultry, snail farming, etc., cottage industry, mining and solid minerals, creative industry: tourism, arts and crafts, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).//End.//

COVID-19: WAPIC Offers 15% Discount On New Policies To Health Workers

Wapic Insurance, one of Nigeria’s leading underwriters, is offering health workers across Nigeria a 15% discount on new policies taken up in 2020 to help cushion financial hardships associated with the​ COVID-19 pandemic. The offering is sequel to it’s recent announcement that it will be giving premium refunds to| customers with active motor vehicle policies during the lockdown period
The rebate to health workers covers Personal Accident, Householder Insurance and Motor Insurance and is for the tenor of the policies. In line with regulations, discounts do not apply at renewal.
According to the Managing Director, Mrs Adeyinka Adekoya, “This corporate gesture is in appreciation of the noble effort of our health workers, who are in the frontline of the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic”.
The insurer recently announced an initiative costing millions of Naira in premium revenue that will give refunds to its motor insurance policy holders.​ The offer from Wapic Insurance ensures that customers with active policies are automatically credited with refunds based on the lockdown period.​
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Nigeria, Wapic Insurance has been at the forefront of Insurance sector contributions towards the fight against the Covid-19 virus. The company has contributed 40 million Naira to the Federal Government’s Covid-19 response effort, Wapic is also one of the Insurance Companies underwriting free health cover for Nigeria’s 5000 health workers. Most importantly the company is demonstrating its commitment to sustainable business practices by fighting the pandemic through its core underwriting products and services
Wapic Insurance is committed to rolling out more socially responsible and development focused initiatives using its capital, products and services during these challenging

Post COVID-19: Expert Says Diversification From Oil Will Save Nigerian Economy

An economist and Chief Executive Officer of Mascot Consult Limited, Mr. Marcel Okeke, has stated that one of the blessings of the current negative impact of COVID-19 is that Nigeria can no longer afford to postpone its transition from an oil dominated economy to a diversified econom.
Okeke, a former Chief Economist of Zenith Bank Plc, made this statement on the occasion of the Financial Correspondent Association of Nigeria (FICAN) Webinar Series Lecture titled: :Nigeria Without Oil.”
He insisted that one of the economic lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, “is that dependence on oil as the major earner has come to an end. And so other items or revenue sources must be urgently explored and exploited. This points to an urgent restructuring of the economy of the country such that substantial revenue must come from either new or neglected sources.”
According to Okeke, who was also the founding Chairman of FICAN, Nigeria must begin to develop an alternative economy and end the debate on whether crude oil is a ‘curse or blessing’ to Nigeria, which has been raging on since the 1980s. 
“The utilisation of our oil revenue has been our challenge for the economic development of the country. It can, therefore, be said that the Dutch disease and the paradox of resource curse has been with Nigeria for a long time. And now that we are where we are now, there is need for paradigm shift to having a country that does not depend on oil,” he said.
Okeke argued that reliance on oil is no longer sustainable for the Nigerian economy as the current slump in the oil market has negated all the projections in the 2020 budget to the extent that economic development would be a mirage and anything contrary would be a magic
“Since March 2020 there has been a glut of crude oil in the global market. Demand has been remarkably outstripped by supply. Indeed, it has been reported that several oil laden cargoes and ships belonging to Nigeria and other oil producing countries have been hovering in the sea for months without seeing anybody to buy them. This situation is likely to linger because economies that consume oil are in no situation to utilise oil due to the gravity of the impact of COVID-19 that has practically shutdown all productive processes..
“Let me give you a little idea about Nigeria. Oil production in Nigeria is now seriously endangered. Production cost of a barrel of crude oil in Nigeria is around $22 per barrel and now the price of the product is around $10 to $15 per barrel, it means that it is selling, that is if it is selling at all, below the production cost. If this continues, oil producing companies would fold up, contract their activities and leave the sector in job losses and lack of new investments. You know the implications for this country.
“So, for Nigeria that has solely depended on oil for its revenues, the reality is that oil revenues are no longer forthcoming. Therefore the country has been sent back to the drawing board.”
He said that time has come for Nigeria to resort to its previously neglected sources of revenue like agriculture, taxation and non-oil mineral exploration that the country is richly endowed and blessed with.
Okeke recommended the pursuit of aggressive import substitution industrialisation strategy for the country. “So many of those things we have been importing all these years, we have to find a way to produce them locally so we can substitute those things. It would take some time, but that is the direction to go for a Nigeria without oil. 
There has to be reorientation for the consumption of locally made goods. This is in line with import substitution.
“Also, more emphasis should be laid on human capital development with the new emphasis on digital economy, meaning that our education system should be restructured so that we can produce people for the needed direction of the economy.  
More emphasis should be on infrastructure development. That has been the challenge of the economy and it would be more so when we don’t have oil. Power infrastructure is needed or the entire economy to grow.
“There should be greater focus on security and good governance. Today, there is a very high level of insecurity and our governance can be improved in several ways.
There is an urgent need for fresh legislation to disentangle the three tiers of government from oil money sharing culture.  In a situation where there is no oil, this culture of monthly sharing of oil proceeds has to disappear.
The sharing of oil money is a constitutional provision and so there has to be a serious amendment of the Nigerian constitution to reflect a new economy that no longer depends on oil. Greater emphasis has to move to internally generated revenue by sub national governments. When there is no monthly revenue to share, they would have to think outside the box on how the states can exists and to discharge its responsibilities. It is well known that many states owe their civil servants in the pasts and now you would imagin

NACCIMA Applauds President Buhari’s Post COVID-19 Stimulus Package

The Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture/NACCIMA) has commended the stimulus packages initiated by the federal government to assist corporate organizations get back on track following the gradual easing oxygen lockdown in some states of the federation.
The association praised in particular the Presidential directive to the CBN and other financial institutions to make plan and provision for financial stimulus packages for SMEs in view of their critical role.
NACCIMA called on respective authorities administering and that will administer these Financial stimulus packages to allow easier access and early disbursement of the funds once the Applicants can prove their own credibility and track record. In this regard , while advising members of the Chambers to take advantage of the opportunities under the National Collateral Registry (NCR) to register their moveable assets to enable prospective applicants avail themselves of the opportunities available under and through the NCR at this period.
The association also called for sector specific stimulus packages by relevant institutions as government starts a review of the budget in the face of the free fall of oil prices and loss of revenue. The stimulus packages, it further noted deserve the attention of the Economic Sustainability Committee which the VP is chairing especially as the Committee ruminate of the Post Covid era.
vWhile harping on the very important need to continue to adhere to various protocols that will help to curb the spread of the disease such as social distancing, restriction on large gathering and wide use of face mask, it applauded the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid 19, the Nigeria Centre for Dieses Control(NCDC) and our health workers who are in the forefront of the fight against Covid 19.
The Chambers subsequently prayed for a speedy end to the Pandemic.

WAPIC Insurance Plc To Refund Motor Vehicle Insurance Premiums During Lockdown

Wapic Insurance Plc ((Wapic or the Company) one of Nigeria’s leading underwriters has become the first Nigerian motor insurer to offer customers refunds on their insurance premiums. This act of empathy is made in line with Wapic’s understanding that most drivers are stuck at home and unable to drive their motor vehicles in line with the Covid-19 pandemic stay at home policy.

Beyond financial and other contributions the company is making efforts in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, Wapic is serious about supporting its customers, particularly the most vulnerable, during this difficult time. The insurer takes pride in always putting customers first and continually improving its services to deliver a unique and excellent customer experience.

Wapic’s outgoing Chairman Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede advised, “We know that our customers are experiencing unprecedented circumstances and many are struggling to cope. We want to recognise the sacrifice you are making by driving significantly less as you support our country’s objectives in flattening the curve of the pandemic. We want our customers to know they can Rest Assured and we will defeat this pandemic together.”

Wapic is passing the benefit of reduced motor insurance claims during this period onto our existing policy holders. The refund will automatically be credited to customers with active policies at the end of the lockdown period.