FG Rolls Out Funding Plan for MSMEs


By Okoh Onuche

Following the outbreak of the Corona Virus (Covid-19 Pandemic), the Federal Government in its wisdom, has decided to empower, and alleviate the plights of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the Country.


Speaking on this, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the Federal Government, through the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), is set to implement a number of schemes to keep Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) afloat.


He said there will be a Survival Fund including payroll support for three months, adding that the efforts are to support small businesses to survive during and after the pandemic.


The spokesperson to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Thursday 17, in Abuja, said the vice president spoke at the 2020 edition of the Micro MSMEs Awards which held via video conference.


He said that in Nigeria, the local businesses were facing their most challenging time and the impact was particularly severe on MSMEs.


“The central plank of our response as a government to the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the Economic Sustainability Plan recently approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Executive Council.


“In that plan which essentially envisages an overall N2.3 trillion stimulus package, we made extensive provision for financial support to MSMEs, ranging from a guaranteed off-take scheme to a survival fund that includes a payroll support programme for qualifying businesses.


“The guaranteed off-take scheme seeks to provide support for MSMEs, manufacturing local products by guaranteeing the purchase from them of qualifying products such as face masks, hand sanitizer, Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) for medical workers among others.


“These products will be distributed to Nigerians, Nigerian institutions and entities that would require them.


“The survival fund will help provide payroll support to MSMEs with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 staff. The MSMEs that qualify for these will make available their payroll for verification by the government.


“Companies that meet the requirements will then be eligible to have the salaries of their verified staff paid directly from the fund for a period of three months.”, he explained.


According to the vice president, the target beneficiaries of this scheme will include private schools, hotels, road transport workers, creative industries and others.


He said that the verification process would be very rigorous and painstaking.


Osinbajo added that N200 billion would be made available to MSMEs in the priority sectors such as healthcare, agro-processing, creative industries, local oil and gas, aviation among others.


“This will be granted through a scheme jointly run by the Bank of Industry and Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank, especially for export expansion.


“The CBN is also committed to creating a N100 billion target credit facility for MSMEs.


“Already the recently signed Finance Act already made provision for graduated company income tax rates with zero rates for small companies and a rate reduction for medium-sized companies.”, he said.


The vice president said that the Federal Government would continue to implement similar focused MSME interventions around the country.


Osinbajo said that Kaduna state, for example, was working on a tomato paste production plant while Lagos was putting together a fashion hub.


He said that FCT was equally set to launch a carpentry cluster while Anambra state was almost ready to commission its leather works cluster.


“All of these are scheduled for 2020.

“In 2021, Edo, Ekiti, Katsina, Ogun, Bauchi and Enugu States would commission shared facilities that will bring MSMEs together by cluster and provide shared equipment and resources and business support hub.’’, he stated.


He commended the participants at the awards for their ingenuity in starting up and sustaining their businesses, urging those who were not shortlisted not to relent in what they were doing.


Osinbajo also commended all those who had started businesses in Nigeria, no matter how small, describing them as champions.


“Every person who has taken it upon themselves to start a business in Nigeria no matter how small is a champion and we as a government owe it to you to create an enabling environment for you to thrive.


“This is President Buhari’s commitment to MSMEs in Nigeria, that we will continue to stand by you and to support you and to create opportunities for you to grow and prosper,” he said.


Adejoke Lasisi of Planet 3R Limited won the MSME of the Year Award while Kaduna State was awarded the Best MSME Clinic Support State.


The winners got cash and car prizes.


The event was attended by several state governors and their representatives, the FCT Minister Malam Muhammed Bello, the Minister of State, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum, various heads of MDAS and captains of industry.


Nigeria’s Revenue Depreciates By $3 Billion Due to Illegal Gold Mining Activities


By Okoh Onuche


President Muhammadu Buhari has decried the activities of the smugglers leading to a revenue loss of $3 billion between the year 2012 and 2018.


The President, however, said his administration was up and doing to tackle the situation.


Speaking at the official presentation of locally mined gold bars by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI) in Abuja, Buhari reaffirmed government’s commitment to establishing gold refineries in the country.


He  said mining would generate no fewer than 250,000 jobs and over $500 million yearly in royalties and taxes, when the sector is overhauled.


According to him, the initiative would also support efforts at diversifying the nation’s revenue base and improving its foreign exchange reserves.


“With the implementation of the PAGDMI scheme, which will result in the establishment of accredited gold-buying centres across key mining areas, artisanal miners and SMEs engaged in mining will be able to capture the value of their work.


“These operations will help in diversifying our revenue base. The sale of gold by artisanal miners and SMEs at accredited centres will help the government in realising royalties and taxes from the sale of these assets.


“These developments will also help in improving our foreign reserves by enabling the Central Bank of Nigeria to increase the amount of gold in its reserves.


“These gold assets, which will be purchased in naira, will not only help to bolster our international reserves, it will also provide a hedge against inflation and other economic volatilities associated with foreign currencies that are held in our reserves,” President Buhari said.

In his submission, National President of the Miners Association of Nigeria (MAN), Kabiru Mohammed, pushed for genuine repositioning of the sector.


On his part, General Secretary of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), Dr. Akinade Olatunji, called for a robust exploration programme to determine the quantity and quality of the country’s gold deposits.


Olantuji sought massive investment in extensive examination to generate the needed data for informed decisions.



Star Boy Jerry Mallo Invents Ventilator


A Mechanical Engineer, Jerry Mallo has invented a Ventilator to aid the breathing challenges of those affected by coronavirus disease.


Mr Mallo said the project was funded by the Plateau State Government.

He had earlier assisted in fixing two of the broken down ventilators owned by Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH).


ITF Empowers 221 Youths on Skill Acquisition




By Juliana Uzoka


Plateau State Governor, RT. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong has charged centres set up with training mandate for skills acquisition to improve on the economic base of the state.


The governor made this declaration during the closing ceremony and award of start-up pack of two hundred and twenty-one graduands, of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in Jos, Plateau State.

DG ITF, Sir Joseph Ari with Deputy Governor, Plateau State, Prof. Sonny Tyoden at the closing ceremony of 2019 NISDP graduation in Jos

Represented by his deputy, Prof. Sonny Tyoden,  Governor Lalong said, the benefits of empowering the youth with skills is immeasurable, adding that the transformation of the ITF into a formidable skills acquisition hub has empowered thousands of youth across the country and should be emulated by sister organizations, in order to erode poverty and create jobs in the state.


The governor said, the idea is to create a business environment like China, where main stay of their economy is in skills acquisition and technical know-how.

The Director General of the ITF, Sir Joseph Ari, said lack of employment had been the bane to crime and insurgency in the country therefore the need for more employment opportunities for the youth in order to improve their standard of living.


He said: “It will be equally difficult to separate rising criminality and harmful social vices that are being perpetrated by Nigerians because of unemployment and attendant poverty.


“Consequently, our population that ordinarily be a resource, may become an albatross if we cannot provide a greater proportion of our population with a source of livelihood”.


Mr Ari further called on the government, the Organized Private Sector (OPS), Non-Governmental Organizations, politicians and other stake holders to collaborate with ITF in supporting jobless Nigerians through skills acquisition programmes with the organization.


The Industrial Training Fund, (ITF), graduated two hundred and twenty-one students from its 2019 National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP) in Plateau State.


The categories of the training programme include: Solar Energy installation, catering and events management and Auto gele and beauty care.


Nigeria’s Efforts to Secure International Loans to Bail the Country Out of Recession Ends in Deadlock

AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina

AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina

By Juliana Agbo


Nigeria’s efforts to secure funds from international lenders to help the country of out of recession hits deadlock, because it has not submitted the required economic reform plans.

According to Reuters, one of the banks and sources close to the matter stated that, government has been in loan talks with the World Bank for a year. It had told the lender it would present its proposed reforms, to make the economy more resilient and attractive to investment by the end of December.

In a statement issued by a western diplomat and Nigerian official,  this has not happened and as a result of the delay, which the government has not explained, the Washington-based bank has not been able to consider a loan yet.

The African Development Bank (AfDB), meanwhile, is holding back the second tranche of a $1 billion loan for Nigeria, AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“We are waiting for the economic policy recovery programme and the policy framework for that,” said Adesina, without specifying when the AfDB is expected to receive the reform plans.

In an email to Reuters, the World Bank said that, Nigeria was currently preparing its plan “on the basis of which the World Bank will determine with the government the most appropriate lending instrument to support the implementation of the reform plan.”

Nigeria has said it is seeking to borrow $4 billion in total from the World Bank and other foreign institutions, and $1 billion through Eurobonds to plug a yawning budget deficit and fund badly needed infrastructure projects.

The country, which relies on oil revenue for most of its income, has been hit hard by the sharp fall in crude prices since 2014, and is struggling to drag itself out of its first recession in 25 years.


It is unclear why the government has not submitted reform plans to the international lenders. The funding deadlock could throw into doubt badly needed infrastructure projects planned for this year, including new roads and improvements to power infrastructure.

The failure to secure the funds, and to present a reform programme, could also deter some investors from Nigeria’s planned $1 billion Eurobonds sale in March.

A Nigerian financial source said the government was working with a consultancy on putting together a package of proposed reforms. The source, who declined to be named as the matter is confidential, did not elaborate.

Nigeria needs money to help plug a budget deficit of 2.2 trillion naira ($7 billion) for 2016 and to help fund a record budget of 7.3 trillion naira for 2017 which is aimed at stimulating the economy.

It has been holding talks with various institutions and China over the last year to borrow funds but apart from a $1 billion loan from the African Development Bank, at a rate of 1.2 percent, nothing has been made public.

The Abidjan-based AfDB has paid out an initial $600 million in November but is awaiting the economic reform proposals before it disburses the rest of the money.

Furthermore, the Diplomatic sources said the bank wanted to see how Nigeria planned to lower its dependence on oil revenues and boost investment, which has been hit by a high official exchange rate for the Naira currency.

Environmental Rights Action and Friends of The Earth Nigeria Set to Introduce 150% Levy on Tobacco Products

Photo credit: The Guardian

Photo credit: The Guardian

By Juliana Agbo

The Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has pronounced the imposition of a minimum of 150% special levies on  tobacco products.


ERA/FOEN’s Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, explained that, the new policy came as a result of recommendations by public experts, adding that, the nation stands to gain from imposing higher taxes and other levies on tobacco products.


The group also argued that the call for the imposition of higher levies on tobacco products would serve as a means of raising revenue, and curb the consumption and health impacts of tobacco use.


According to The Guardian, the group believes that the new policy looks promising which will offer subtle protection for local tobacco companies which already controls 90% of the Nigerian markets, which will also help public health.


It noted, “we commend the listing of tobacco among luxury goods deserving higher duties, the measure falls short of what is needed to reduce consumption of tobacco products to further cushion the local environment for production and consumption.


“We have consistently urged government to look the way of special levies, high excise and duties on tobacco products. The complete removal of all incentives and grants by the Nigerian government could end the indirect subsidy on smoking.”


Meanwhile, the Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had in a circular to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) two weeks ago, announced a raise of import duty on tobacco from 20 per cent to 60 per cent.


Other products that also had their duties reviewed upwards are: imported rice, sugarcane, cassava products and salt, among others. The new circular ranks tobacco with rice, salt, medicine and other daily needs.



Dangote Set to Create 3,000 Jobs by Setting up Truck Assembly Plant in Lagos


President Dangote Group: Aliko Dangote

President Dangote Group: Aliko Dangote

By Juliana Agbo


Renowned entrepreneur, Aliko Dangote, is setting up a $100 million vehicle assembly plant in Lagos, to help tackle employment crisis in the country.


The plant will be churning out heavy duty trucks on which his conglomerate, the Dangote Group spends huge amount to import for distribution of its products both locally and across the continent.


The chief corporate Communication Officer of Dangote Group, Mr. Anthony Chiejina confirmed the project, saying Dangote would be partnering a leading Chinese Company, National Heavy Duty Truck Group Company Limited, SINOTRUK.


According to vangard news, it was gathered that the decision to go into the truck assembly plant project was informed by the need to conserve forex, in view of the current economic recession in the country.


The multi-million dollars deal expected to have an assembly plant that would produce 10,000 trucks annually was signed in May 2014 in China, making it the eighth of Shandong, China (SINOTRUK), to be built abroad.



Nigeria remains one of the most important markets for SINOTRUK, with Dangote Group which operates the largest truck fleet in Africa with over 10, 000 trucks using them for the distribution of its products, like cement, sugar, flour and pasta, among others, even in its plants across the continent.


According to Chiejina, the project had taken off and that when fully operational, the plant is expected to generate employment and the nation would be spared the huge forex spent in the importation of the heavy duty vehicles.


He noted that there would be room for the expansion of the project in future to meet the national truck demand and possibly export to neighbouring countries to generate foreign exchange for the nation.


Chiejina said Dangote has always believed that the current economic challenges when approached positively will make Nigeria stronger at the end of the day, pointing out that, Nigeria is one of the best places in the world to do business.

Nigeria gains more on bilateral trade with China attracting 9.5 billion dollars investment in 2016


By Editor

Trade between Nigeria and China stood at 9.5 billion dollars in 2016, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy, Mr Zhao Linxiang, said on Saturday.

Linxiang gave the figure at a dinner to host participants of different training courses in China in Abuja.

The envoy said though bilateral relations between both countries faced challenges, Nigeria remained China’s fourth largest trading partner in Africa.

“In the first 11 months of last year (2016), our bilateral trade reached 9.5 billion dollars. It is a great achievement under the current condition the Nigerian economy is.

“So far, China’s total investment in Nigeria reached 2.2 billion dollars and Nigeria is China’s important destination in Africa. Our investment cooperation is expanding.


“A large number of Chinese investors and enterprises are concentrated in Nigeria and cover various fields like oil and gas exploration, free trade zone project, steel processing, manufacturing, agriculture, broadcasting and pharmacy among others,’’ the counsellor said.

He added that implementation of the 10 major China-Africa cooperation projects, which began in 2016 was progressing.

The envoy said it was important for both countries to promote win-win cooperation, seek common development goals and maintain high-level exchanges.

Linxiang reiterated China’s commitment to work with Nigeria to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation and promote Nigeria’s industrialisation and agricultural modernisation.

According to him, both countries can better enhance cooperation in the area of capacity building.

“”We will provide more training and scholarship for Nigerians under the framework of `1000 People Plan’.

““The friendship between both countries needs more publicity,’’ he said.

The envoy said the Chinese Government offered training opportunities to 3,200 Nigerians in the last decade, adding that 260 officials participated in different training opportunities in China in 2016.

“”Last year, we held the 2016 China-Nigeria Agricultural Technical Training programme; 40 Nigerian officials and technicians got trained in Abuja.

““This is a historical beginning which means we can achieve better results through providing localised courses,’’ he said.

Also speaking, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the relationship between both countries was beneficial.

““China has been in several developmental places in Nigeria,’’ Ahmed added.

The minister further remarked that continued engagement with the right partners would bring Nigeria out of its current economic situation.

“”Our focus is to develop infrastructure required to ease the difficulties of doing business in our country and the Chinese companies working in Nigeria are set to help us in deploying those projects.

“”We will be reaching out to you to make sure that some of the projects that we have started discussing are crystallising within the shortest possible time,’’ she said.

Mr Stephen Anayo, who spoke on behalf of the trainees, said that Nigeria could learn from China’s development.

Anayo urged the Chinese Government to sustain the training opportunities, adding that it would promote capacity building and boost development in the country.

“”Transfer knowledge is the best a partner or friend can do for another; China is considered as one of Nigeria’s allies.

“”When people are knowledgeable, they know what to do and do it right,’’ he said.

He called on other participants to utilise the knowledge acquired for the development of the country.

Report from NAN


Inflation Increases by 18.55% in December 2016


 By Juliana Agbo


The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has released a report which states that Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures inflation, increased by 18.55% in December 2016.


The report which was published yesterday indicated that in December 2016, inflation was 0.07 percentage points higher from the 18.48 per cent recorded in November.


This is an 11-year high record, corresponding with the rate as at November 2005.


According to Vanguard news which quoted NBS, contrary to expectation of Yuletide driven- transportation cost, the survey indicated that increases were driven by price surges in housing, utilities and the food index.


Restaurants and Hotels group recorded the slowest pace of price growth in December, growing at 5.33 percent and 8.91 percent (year-on-year) respectively. Conversely, the Food Index rose by 17.39 percent (year-on-year) in December 2016.


NBS also stated that, 0.20 percent points from rate recorded in November (17.19) percent; during the month, all major food sub-indexes increased, with soft drinks recording the slowest pace of increase at 7.66 percent (year on year).


Price movements recorded rose by 18.10 percent in December, down by 0.10 percent points from rate recorded in November, 18.20 percent. The highest increases were seen in essential commodities, fuel, gas, and Education, growing at 27.27, 21.62 and 17.84 percent respectively.


The Headline index rose by 1.06 percent point in December, higher from the rate recorded in November (0.78) percent.


The urban index rose by 20.12 percent in December from 20.07 percent recorded in November, and the rural index increased by 17.20 percent in December from 17.10 percent in November.



NBS also stated that the percentage change in the average composite CPI for the twelve-month period ending in December 2016 was 15.7 percent, higher from the 15.0 percent recorded in November 2016.


The corresponding twelve-month average percentage change for the urban index increased from 16.19 percent in November to 17.05 percent in December, while the corresponding rural index also increased from 13.90 percent in November to 14.54 percent in December.”


Ahead of the December 2016 inflation report, economists at Financial Derivatives Company, FDC, run by Nigeria’s leading economist, Bismark Rewane, have pointed to a decline in inflation figures both for December 2016 and January 2017.

FG to Support States with N510 Billion to Fund Their Budgetary Plans

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

By Juliana Agbo



The Federal Government says it has concluded plans to assist states with a N510 billion fiscal stimulus plan known as “Budget Support Programme.”


The 12-month standby loan facility was designed to bring financial relief to state governments, with a monthly N50 billion in the first three months and N40 billion available for the remaining nine months to them.


Accordingly to the Guardian news, the Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has appointed eight accounting firms to monitor the cash disbursement to states, to enable them carry out their plans successfully and pay salaries to workers.


In a statement issued yesterday by the Director of Press in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Alhaji Salisu Na’nna Dambatta, confirms that Federal Government has commenced independent review of states by appointing eight  accounting firms, to monitor the implementation of the 22-point Fiscal Sustainability Plan.


While announcing their appointment, Mrs Adeosun said that the firms were “expected to vigorously monitor, evaluate and verify performances of the states against the agreed milestones set by each state government under the fiscal sustainability plan.”


She said the state governments that failed to implement the action plans, as stated, would be taken off the facility immediately.  Meanwhile, the Federal Government yesterday said it would roll out the long-awaited Diaspora bond by March.


This followed the successful passage of the Diaspora Bond Bill into law by the National Assembly.

Adeosun disclosed this at a meeting with the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Honourable Abike Dabiri Erewa.


Dabiri-Erewa said the rolling out of the Eurobond in January, and the passage of the Diaspora bond law will  mainstream Nigerians in the Diaspora, which will help economic and social development of the country.





Nigeria’s Manufacturing PMI Stood at 52 In Q3 2016-Report


Photo credit: Thisday

Photo credit: Thisday

From Juliana Agbo


The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) stood at 52 index points in December 2016, indicating expansion in the manufacturing sector during the review period. The index had recorded decline in the preceding 11 months.


The report showed that production level, new orders, and raw material expanded from contraction; employment level declined slower; but supplier delivery time worsened from improving in December 2016.


According to the report posted on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) website, eight of the 16 sub-sectors surveyed recorded expansion of the following products: cement, food, beverage & tobacco products; textile, apparel, leather & footwear; plastics & rubber products; paper products; appliances & components; chemical & pharmaceutical products,  furniture and others.


This Day reports has it that the fabricated metal products sub-sector remained unchanged, while the remaining seven sub-sectors declined in the order: computer and electronic products; electrical equipment; primary metal; transportation equipment; petroleum and coal products; printing and related support activities; and nonmetallic mineral products.


Also, at 57.6 index points, the production level index for manufacturing sector indicated the sector expanded in the review period, compared to the decline recorded in the preceding eleven months.


Five manufacturing sub-sectors recorded growth in production level during the review month in the following order: cement; food, beverage and tobacco products; electrical equipment; plastics and rubber products; and textile, apparel, leather and footwear.


The statement added that the appliances and components sub-sector remained unchanged, while the remaining 10 sub-sectors declined in the following order: primary metal; petroleum and coal products; computer and electronic products; transportation equipment; furniture and related products; fabricated metal products; non-metallic mineral products; paper products; chemical and pharmaceutical products; and printing and related support activities.


At 51.8 points, the new orders index showed expansion in new orders after eleven months of contraction. It stood at 45.1 in November 2016. The five sub-sectors that recorded expansion in new orders were: cement; food, beverage & tobacco products; textile, apparel, leather and footwear; paper products; and fabricated metal products.


The plastics and rubber products sub-sector remained unchanged, while the remaining ten sub-sectors declined in  primary metal; electrical equipment; transportation equipment; appliances & components; petroleum & coal products; printing & related support activities; computer & electronic products; nonmetallic mineral products; furniture & related products; and chemical & pharmaceutical products.


The report also showed that, 47.9 index points, the supplier delivery time for manufacturing sub-sectors contracted in the month of December 2016, after nine consecutive periods of expansion.


Nine sub-sectors recorded worsening suppliers’ delivery time in the following order: transportation equipment; food, beverage & tobacco products; cement; textile, apparel, leather & footwear; paper products; printing & related support activities; chemical & pharmaceutical products; plastics & rubber products; and nonmetallic mineral products.


The computer & electronic products and electrical equipment sub-sectors remained unchanged, while the appliances & components; primary metal; furniture & related products; petroleum & coal products; and fabricated metal products sub- sectors recorded improving delivery time in December.





By Marymagdalyn Francis

PhotoCrdeit: Minister Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma

Minister Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma

The Federal Government has denied any intentions to borrow money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma had hinted the French delegations that visited his office on Thursday, that the government would look to institutions that can offer concessionary terms to drive revenue for its activities.

In a statement, the Media Adviser to the Minister, Akpandem James explained that contrary to what was reported in the news media on Friday, by some national dailies, at no point in its communication with the media did the Budget office specify the intentions with any financial body.

He said, rather what was discussed about increasing its revenue base was that: “government was exploring both internal and external sources, but emphasized that in case of external sources, government would only be looking at institutions that can give concessionary terms.”

The Media Adviser further said the Federal Government has no need for an IMF loan at this point.

According to Vanguard news online, the ministry said, to get Nigeria out of recession: “we will need to borrow, part of which has to be sourced internationally from sources that can give concessionary terms like the International Monetary Fund [IMF] and World Bank.”

FG slams Republic of Benin for violating her trade treaty, by allowing contraband products into the country

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe

By Marymagdalyn Francis

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe, says government of the Republic of Benin is enmeshed and  should be held culpable for smuggling activities into the country.

The Minister blames the authorities of Benin for “providing smugglers with ware housing facilities, transport logistics to smuggle rice into Nigeria, because of import duties accruing to them.”

A report from The Guardian news said the Minister disclosed to Journalists in Abuja that 571,000 tonnes of parboiled rice was deposited at the border shared with the country, awaiting smuggling into Nigeria for the Christmas celebrations.

The Minister said this violates the trade agreement between the two countries, as it also breached the ECOWAS free trade treaty within the region.

The activity of smugglers portends to scuttle Nigeria’s efforts in advocating the growth and development of her local produce, which the government has been working hard to improve, in order to improve the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

The Minister said Benin Republic eats white rice and not parboiled, therefore, making it more glaring the dubious intentions of the huge deposit of the rice shipped in from Thailand close to her borders.

He said: “The ECOWAS treaty was for products manufactured within the region, but some of our neighbours are not moving goods produced in their country, they import goods, station themselves at our borders and smuggle these items into our country.”

The Agriculture Minister expressed willingness to work with the Hope Uzodimma Committee on Customs, which raised the awareness on the need to restructure the treaty.

He further said: “No economy should out of sympathy damage our own, and we should not allow anybody out of sentiment to do to us things that we can’t do.”

The government of Republic of Benin has been accused by the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) of providing the smugglers with warehousing facilities.

NIPC, NSDC collaborate to attract more investment  

By Etuka Sunday

Acting Executive Secretary/CEO of the Commission, Hajiya Ladi Katagum

Acting Executive Secretary/CEO of the Commission, Hajiya Ladi Katagum

The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) in its determination to attract more investment into the Non-Oil Sectors of the economy, is collaborating with the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) to promote the sector.

A statement by the Head of Media, Joel Attah said, the move was in realization of the Federal Government Policy on diversification of the economy, which the Commission is pursuing with vigor.

The Acting Executive Secretary/CEO of the Commission, Hajiya Ladi Katagum made this commitment when she led the Commission’s Management team on a visit to the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC).

She stated that the Commission is synergizing with relevant Government Agencies on investment related matters, to collate information on their activities and possible project feasibilities/profiles in order to market them to the international business communities, and attract beneficial investment.

She informed her host that the Commission is the Agency of Government charged with the responsibility of promoting and attracting investment into the economy and also has the legal framework on all investment related matters. And in line with the Federal Government Policy thrust on diversification, the Commission is driving the policy to ensure that the Non-Oil Sectors are given global prominence through massive Foreign and Local Direct Investment.

She therefore called on the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) to provide the Commission with adequate information on the sugar sector, and possible projects to attract investment into them, so as to create employment to the teeming youths and ensure the growth of the economy.

In his response, the Acting Executive Secretary of National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Samuel Kwambe commended the Commission for the imitative to partner and collaborate with relevant Agencies on investment related matters, stressing that “this is a welcome development and the Council is happy about it”.

He briefed the NIPC delegation on the activities of the Council which includes the Promotion and Development of Support for Mini-Sugar Plants. Namely: Provision and Rehabilitation of Feeder Roads; Supply of Transformers connection to the National Grid and Research; Providing  training Support; Coordination of Research, Development and Training for the Nigerian Sugar sector that includes the funding research on Sugar quality; Sugarcane variety improvement; Rapid micro propagation Techniques; Sugar Development Grants to Institutions and Universities; Cane Price Intervention.

He also mentioned that the Council also undertakes Sugarcane Out growers Support Scheme that takes care of registration of Sugarcane Out growers Cooperative Societies; provision of irrigation infrastructure to rural sugarcane farmers; provision of single digit interest agro input loans to Sugarcane out growers in all existing Sugar companies nationwide; provision of raw material (New Cane Variety) at a token fees from established NSDC’s Sugarcane nursery sites and maintain Sugar Data Base Provision of up to date information on the Sugar Sub Sector such as data on Sugar Consumption, Importation, Production and Prices and Sugarcane Production and Production Sites.

The NSDC boss disclosed that the Council has presently identified 10 sites for development of Sugar Factory in the country, out of which seven sites have gotten investors that are ready to partner with the local investors.
He therefore called on the NIPC to source for investors for the remaining three sites in order to develop them and create jobs in addition to providing enough sugar for domestic consumption and exporting the product.

Iran to invest in energy, pharmaceutical other sectors in Nigeria

By Etuka Sunday

ACCI LOGO newThe Iranian government plans on investing in key areas of construction, Pharmaceuticals, power, oil and gas and agricultural sectors in Nigeria.

Iranian Ambassador to Nigeria, Morteza Rahini disclosed this when he led a delegation on a visit to Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The visit is predicated on development and fostering of business relations between both countries.

“The Sectors that we believe that Nigeria and the Islamic Republic of Iran could have similarity and cooperation are Pharmaceuticals, road construction, building constructions, Oil, Gas and Energy,” he said.

Ambassador Rahimi said that the Islamic Republic of Iran and Nigeria had enormous resources which include oil and gas, stressing that the country would want to invest in the oil and gas bye products.

The envoy believed that with collaborations in the key areas of the economy, and opening up investment opportunities in the sector, could spur further growth between the two oil producing countries.

“It would be better that both countries produce other commodities through the crude materials, rather than exporting the crude and only getting petroleum product in return,” he said.

“Both countries are selling oil and gas in a very cheap price. We have to bring out our countries from this situation.

“We must add value to our oil resources now, and we have found in Nigeria a strategic partner in this venture.

“Instead of us exporting only crude and getting petroleum  in return, we could refine locally and also explore investment opportunities in other petroleum bye products,” he said.

Ambassador Rahimi said that he had recently discussed with Mr Mohammed Barkindo, Nigerian representative in OPEC, on this issue. He  added that further progress would be made on it.

The president ACCI, Mr Tony Ejinkonye, said that the visit was in preparatory to the visit of the Iranian foreign Minister to Nigeria in July.

Ejinkonye  said that the Ambassador would also lead a delegation of organised private sector from the country to Nigeria.

“As the voice of the organised Private sector in the country, the Ambassador is engaging us to look at possible areas of business cooperation, as they come with business delegation.

“As the voice of the Private sector in Abuja, they want to engage with us to see possible areas of cooperation; they would be coming in with a business delegation,” Ejinkonye said.

Notably, since the Americans and other countries  lifted up the sanctions on Iran, Iranian President,  Hassan Rouhani and  key government officials from the country have been touring key countries, drumming up investment  support for the country’s sanctions-battered economy, which may not be unconnected with the Morteza’s visit to Nigeria.

Adeosun resolves crisis in NERFUND, directs staff back to work

By Etuka Sunday

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has ordered the banned National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND) staff, to resume to their duty posts.

A statement by the Director, Information of the Ministry, Salisu Na’Inna Dambatta has said that the Minister directed they immediately return, after resolving the crisis that rocked the establishment.

Recall, the staff of the Agency were directed in a Circular signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse on June 15, 2016,   to stay away from work to forestall further breakdown of law and order.

The dispute that was timely quelled was between the Executive Management, Senior Management and other staff of the organisation.

The staff of NERFUND had alleged that the interim management of the agency had mismanaged and embezzled funds running into about N700m.

They had also staged a protest at the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance, lamenting the failure of successive governments to make a pronouncement over the status of the organisation.

NERFUND was established in 1989 to provide medium to long-term financing to viable Small and Medium scale production enterprises to increase the quantity of goods and services available for local consumption and export.

They also provide needed employment, expand production base and add value to the economy.

The Fund has so far extended credit facilities for 2, 829 projects valued N9.5 billion between 1989 and 1999.

All Nigerians are qualified to apply for NERFUND loans either as individuals, Associations, Cooperatives or Corporate Entities/partner institutions.

Elumelu, Rewane hail Aliko Dangote for sustaining Capital Market

By Etuka Sunday

Chairman, Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu

Chairman, Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu

Chairman, Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu has hailed the President of  Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, saying he has contributed enormously to the growth of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Mr. Elumelu, who is also the Chairman of Transcorp Hillton, spoke in Abuja at a two-day stakeholders’ forum on realizing the full potentials of the Nigerian economy through proactive capital market legislation.

He said Mr. Dangote’s cement has helped to deepen the market and the Nigerian economy.

According to him, the private sector has the most capital to drive the country’s economy.

“Mr. Dangote is a strong promoter of local content development in Nigeria and his company-the Dangote Cement-controls a third of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. It is the biggest quoted company in West Africa,” he said.

Mr. Elumelu, who presented a keynote paper titled: “Deepening the capital market to include privatised and systematically important entities,” regretted that only few state-owned privatized enterprises were so far listed on the stock market.

He said the government must focus on providing the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

Also speaking, the Chief Executive of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismark Rewane, said if the Dangote cement were to be discounted from the Nigerian stock market, the market would have been in trouble.

Mr. Rewane presented a paper titled: The Nigerian Capital Market: ‘Becoming Africa’s Most Modern, Efficient and Internationally Competitive by 2025,’ said there was the need to ask questions about what went wrong despite all the economic measures put in place by successive governments.

He concluded that the Nigerian economy was lacking in investors’ confidence.

Speaking earlier in a paper titled: “Demutualizing the Nigerian Stock Exchange“, Chief Executive of the Exchange, Mr. Oscar Onyema, said the demutualization of the Exchange will be favorable to all stakeholders.

He said: “Demutualization will support the economy in its ability to withstand domestic and international economic shocks; it will also support the Federal Government in driving Nigeria’s economy.”

 CBN releases revised guidelines for Inter-Bank FX market

By Etuka Sunday

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released revised guidelines on the operations of the Nigerian Inter-Bank Foreign Exchange (FX) market.


This, it said was done in line with the objectives of enhancing efficiency and facilitating a liquid and transparent, Foreign Exchange (FX) market.

The revised guidelines which was posted on the website of CBN came barely 3 days ‎after the official announcement by CBN’s Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele to float the naira.

The Guidelines said:  “CBN shall operate a single market structure through the autonomous/inter-bank market i.e. the Inter-Bank Foreign Exchange Market with the CBN participating in the FX market through interventions (i.e. CBN Interventions) directly in the inter-bank market or through dynamic “Secondary Market Intervention Mechanisms”.

“Furthermore, to promote the global competitiveness of the market, the inter-bank FX market will be supported by the introduction of additional risk management products offered by the CBN and Authorised Dealers to further deepen the FX market, boost liquidity and promote financial security in the market.

“Additionally, to further improve the dynamics of the market, the CBN shall introduce FX Primary Dealers (FXPDs). These shall be registered Authorised Dealers designated to deal with the CBN on large trade sizes on a two-way quote basis. Amongst other obligations as stated in the FXPD Guidelines (Guidelines for Primary Dealership in FX Products). The FXPDs shall operate with other Authorised Dealers (non-FXPDs) in the Inter-bank market.

According to the Guidelines, “Participants in the inter-bank FX market shall include Authorised Dealers, Authorised Buyers, Oil Companies, Oil Service Companies, Exporters, End-users and any other entity the CBN may designate from time to time.

” Authorised Dealers shall buy and sell FX among themselves on a two-way quote basis via the FMDQ Thomson Reuters FX Trading Systems (TRFXT Conversational Dealing), or any other system approved by the CBN.

“Authorised Dealers may offer one-way quotes (bid or offer) on all products and on request to other Authorised participants via the FMDQ Thomson Reuters FX Trading System (FMDQ TRFXT – Order Book System), or any other system approved by the CBN.

“The maximum spread between the bid and offer rates in the inter-bank market shall be determined by FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange (FMDQ) via its market organisation activities with the Financial Market Dealers Association (FMDA).

“Proceeds of Foreign Investment Inflows and International Money Transfers shall be purchased by Authorised Dealers at the inter-bank rate.

“To further deepen the FX market, in addition to the already approved hedging products referenced in the CBN “Guidelines for FX Derivatives and Modalities for CBN FX Forwards”, Authorised Dealers are now‎ permitted to offer Naira-settled non-deliverable Over The-Counter (OTC) FX Futures.

“OTC FX Futures’ transactions shall be nonstandardised with fixed tenors and bespoke maturity dates.   OTC FX Futures sold by Authorised Dealers to end users must be backed by trade transactions (visible and invisible) or evidenced investments. FMDQ will provide the appropriate benchmarks for the valuation and settlement of the OTC FX Futures and other FX derivatives.

“FX OTC Futures and Forwards will count as part of the FX positions of Authorised Dealers.  To promote market liquidity, Authorised Dealers may apply FX Spot transactions to hedge Outright Forwards, OTC FX Futures and FX Options etc.  Settlement amounts on OTC FX Futures may be externalised for Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) with Certificates of Capital Importation. Such settlement amounts shall be evidenced by an FMDQ OTC FX Futures Settlement Advice.

“Furthermore, FMDQ will be developing detailed registration and operational regulation on FX Options and will drive, with the market, the development of other risk management products and attendant guidelines.

“Further to the CBN Circular Ref: TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/001 dated 12th January 2015, Authorised Dealers, (FXPDs and non-FXPDs) are hereby notified of a review in the daily Foreign Currency Trading Positions of banks. Consequently, Authorised Dealers shall have maximum limits of +0.5%/-10% of their Shareholders’ Funds unimpaired by losses as Foreign Currency Trading Position Limits to support their obligations as liquidity providers at the close of each business day.

“Where an Authorised Dealer requires a higher position limit to accommodate a customer trade, the Authorised Dealer shall contact the Director, Financial Markets Department. Where the request is assessed as valid, the Director shall communicate immediate approval by text or email to the Authorised Dealer. Thereafter, the Authorised Dealer must, with 24 hours, write to the Director, Financial Markets Department who will thereafter communicate an approval in writing.

“The Director, FMD shall exercise discretion on the duration of the temporary position limit depending on the estimated defeasance period of the transaction size. Returns on the purchases and sales of FX shall be rendered daily to the CBN by Authorised Dealers.  Inter-bank funds shall NOT be sold to Bureaux-deChange.

“The forty-one (41) items classified as “Not Valid for Foreign Exchange” as detailed in the CBN Circular Ref: TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/010, remain inadmissible in the Nigerian FX market.  Applicable exchange rate for the purpose of import duty payments shall be the daily inter-bank FX closing rate as published on the CBN website.

“The CBN reserves the right to intervene in the inter-bank market to either buy or sell FX Spot upon the receipt of valid two-way quotes on the standard amount as defined from time to time in the FXPD Guidelines.  CBN may also intervene in the inter-bank market by placing orders for non-standard amounts in the FMDQ TRFXT – Order Book System., or any other system as approved by the CBN.  There shall be no predetermined spread on FX Spot transactions executed through CBN intervention with the FXPDs.

“The CBN reserves the right to intervene in the inter-bank market to either buy or sell FX Forwards upon the receipt of valid two-way quotes on the standard amount as defined from time to time in the FXPD Guidelines.  v. To enhance liquidity, CBN shall also offer nondeliverable OTC FX Futures (bid or offer) daily on the FMDQ OTC FX Futures Trading & Reporting System”.

Economy: FG eliminates bailout, earmarks N90bn bond for States

By Etuka Sunday

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

Federal Government yesterday announced an available bond of N90 billion for states as part of its Fiscal Sustainability ‎Plan (FSP) for the country.

The Minister for Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who made the disclosure at the Stakeholders Meeting held with Commissioners of Finance on the  Fiscal Sustainability Plan ( FSP) in Abuja said, N50 billion for 3 months would be shared across all the participating States‎ and then N40 billion for 9 months‎.

“N50 billion for 3 months to be shared across all the participating States‎ and then N40 billion for 9 months. The idea is to tie state over for a year so they can rebalance the portfolio, which is an average of about 1.3 billion per state for the first 3 months and N1.1billion for the next 9 months,”‎ she said.

The Minister who said the bond was federal government guaranteed, said, states are expected to pay back after 18 months period.

She said the draft FSP would address the issue of fiscal responsibility, or financial prudence, as part of the federal government’s on-going fiscal responsibility reform.

She said there are 22 conditions that states would sign to before accessing the loan.

“This is not a bailout, in the bailout, there were no conditions attached, here there are 22 conditions for states to sign to.”

Some of the conditions among others, are for states to eliminate ghost workers from payroll; publish state budget online annually; publish audited annual financial statements within 9 months of financial year end; implement a centralised Treasury Single Account (TSA).

Asked if the federal government was ready to suspend federation account based on the new arrangement, she said: “we are not suspending federation account.”

Explaining the framework, the Minister said, “‎at federal level, to create headroom for the urgently needed  investment in infrastructure , we are pursuing a very disciplined approach to managing public funds, ensuring the maximisation of revenues and the minimisation of the costs of governance.

“The  Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP)  replicates this far reaching  public financial management reform programme across all tiers of Government and marks a turning point in the management of State Finances. By raising the standard for public financial management in the areas of transparency, accountability and efficiency, States will be repositioned to embark on a path towards fiscal independence.

“On the cost side, the pressure is to cut costs starting with the commitment to eliminate, once and for all, the menace of ghost workers by BVN checking of payroll and the requirement that all salary payments are made directly to the individual accounts.

“This will enable States to control the size of their wage bill and ensure that it is affordable. The formal commitments being made to improved expense management, greater efficiency in recurrent spending and   prudent debt management will combine to ensure that States can move towards improved long term financial health.

“In the area of revenue, The FSP is based on the fundamental principle that each and every state in Nigeria must be economically viable.

“Accordingly, it recognises the fact that Internally Generated Revenue must be maximised and we have extended the definition of revenue beyond the traditional confines of taxes, licences and fees.

“In some States, there is no significant private sector and therefore, States are being encouraged to identify their own areas of comparative advantage and to embrace partnerships with the private sector to generate revenue and stimulate development.  Such projects will establish the viability of key opportunities and will attract investors.

“In certain States, we are already seeing notable progress being made in specific agricultural products including rice and yam as a source of state revenue. Similarly, other States are working in new partnerships and exploiting their own solid minerals to generate funds.

“This is a development to be encouraged and emulated.  Never before has there been a greater need nor a greater opportunity to look inwards to identify and explore local resources.

“This may entail, in certain States, a fundamental review of the role of Government in line with revised objectives, but will yield long term sustainable dividends.”

According to her, “When fully implemented, The FSP will begin the process of guaranteeing that States take responsibility for their financial viability. Pursuing the objective that IGR rather than Federal Allocation should be their principal focus of revenue is a fundamental change in approach. This is in line with our objective to have a diversified and inclusive economy where every state adds value.

“We realise that this is not an overnight process, rather a journey, but it is a necessary one for the future of State and Local Government in Nigeria.

By agreeing that further financial support under this guaranteed loan package, is conditional upon independently verified attainment of the 22 milestones, the State Governors are to be commended.

“They are sending a strong signal that they are indeed partners in the journey towards the recovery of the Nigerian economy and are fully prepared to pay the price for a sustainable future,” she said.


Stakeholders to brainstorm on 2013 NEITI Audit Reports

By Etuka Sunday



Stakeholders from oil, gas and mining sector, ‎will converge at the Nigeria AirForce (NAF) Conference Centre, Kado District, Abuja to dialogue on the recent audit reports released by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

A statement by the Director, Communications, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji said, the “NEITI’s decision to convene the Stakeholders Dialogue is to afford key players in the sector such as the government, companies, the civil society, the media, policy makers, legislature and covered entities to discuss the issues raised by the reports.

“This is within the context of increasing public demands for effective use of the information and data to hold government and companies accountable.

“The need for the reports to serve as tools for urgent reforms and diversification of the economy to create jobs and empower the citizens will also be canvassed at the event,” it said.

According to the statement, “the Stakeholders Dialogue will be in two major sessions. The first session to be moderated by a former member of the House of Representatives Hon. Yusuf Tuggar, will examine critical issues arising from the report, while the last session will focus on moving from recommendations to reforms.

A development expert, Mr. Patrick Okigbo will moderate. The dialogue is expected to come out with a strategic plan for effective implementation of the report.”

It will be recalled that the recent NEITI reports disclosed that Nigeria earned over $58 Billion from oil and gas and about N34Billion in the solid minerals sector in 2013.

The revenues from oil and gas declined by 8% when compared with $62.9Billion earned in 2012, while earnings from solid minerals increased by 7% when placed side by side with N31.4Billion realized  in the same sector in 2012.

The report further disclosed that for oil and gas, the total crude production and liftings from all sources during the period under review stood at over 800 million barrels.

Other pieces of information put in the public domain about that sector include the total revenue losses to the Federation and outstanding revenues from NNPC and its subsidiaries totalling over $3Billion etc.

The reports also showed the losses incurred due to offshore processing arrangements, crude oil theft valued at about $6Billion.  Public attention was also drawn by the report to divestments or transfers of the Federation equity holdings in OMLs (Oil Mining Leases) by the NNPC to its subsidiary, the NPDC at a sum of $1.8 billion out of which only $100 million was paid.

The report raised red flags on the process and weight of the transactions on the scale of transparency, accountability, competition and value for money. Other disclosures were on subsidy payments, management of cash calls, process and governance issues that resulted in huge revenue leakages.

The reports outlined findings and recommendations and stressed the urgent need for Nigeria to diversify its economy, explore the infinite opportunities in the mining sector. The disclosures on the solid minerals are equally of huge public interest. These and more issues raised in the reports will feature prominently during the deliberation.

The Chairman of NEITI National Stakeholders Working Group and Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi is expected to deliver the keynote while the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Waziri Adio, will present the highlights of the reports to set the stage for the dialogue.  Members of NEITI Board will be in attendance.

The Stakeholders Dialogue is coming at the heels of the recent resolution of the Senate to debate the reports in plenary. These efforts will help to define the necessary steps towards effective implementation of the findings and recommendations as part of the on-going reforms of the extractive sector by the present administration.

‎Beware of fraudulent SMS on ATM cards-CBN warns Bank customers 


CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

By Etuka Sunday

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday warned bank customers to beware of text messages from fraudsters demanding details of their debit (ATM) cards as well as their Personal Identification Numbers (PIN), under the pretext of being Customer Care representatives of the CBN.


The Apex bank said, such messages are intended to lure bank account holders to reveal their personal details which the fraudsters could use to defraud them.


‎A statement by the  Ag. Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor‎ said, “CBN

again wishes to caution bank customers against falling prey to the activities of unscrupulous individuals who demand for the details of their debit (ATM) cards as well as their Personal Identification Numbers (PIN), under the pretext of being Customer Care representatives of the CBN.


“Those messages and calls are intended to lure bank account holders to reveal their personal details which the fraudsters could use to defraud them.


“The public is therefore warned, yet again, that neither the Central Bank of Nigeria and deposit money banks nor their employees or agents would ever call bank customers or send e-mail/text messages requesting for passwords, card details or personal identification numbers (PIN).


“Bank customers are therefore advised to personally visit their banks for any issue requiring disclosure of personal bank details,” the statement said.

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