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The President, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTs) Mr Ken Ukaoha has said that the postponement of the commencement of the 2019 general elections has cost the country over N140 billion.
 
Ukaoha stated this in Abuja on Saturday while speaking with reporters, insisting that the postponement would affect the trading sector adversely.
 
Ukaoha also noted that the postponement would affect the economy adversely in terms of money that the government, political parties and ordinary Nigerians had already expended on logistics and otherwise.
 
Describing the postponement as appalling and unfortunate, Ukaoha said the development could make the nation become a laughing-stock in among comity of nations.
 
The NANTs president said: “I am not talking of the manufacturing sector, transporters and the farmers; even workers were asked not to go to work.
 
“We need to be adequately prepared for elections.
 
“The loss is monumental if you look at the economic consequences, essentially if you look at the trade, Nigeria depends so much on daily turning of fund through distribution and redistribution of goods and commodity.
 
“I am telling you that with this calculation I have just done here, we are losing nothing less than 140 billion naira, because all got this information so late.
 
“If you go round now you will see that the shops are close, so we are losing chunk of money just for this incident.
 
“We are not talking about the manufacturers and the industrialists because they have all sent their workers away to go and perform their civic duty.
 
“Farmers did not go to their farms because they want to exercise their franchise. If you do the computation your guess is as good as mine in terms of what the nation is losing, we should learn.”
 
 
Published in World
Nigeria’s inflation dropped by 0.07 percent in January 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics reports.
 
According to the NBS, the consumer price index, (CPI) which measured inflation increased by 11.37 percent (year-on-year) in January 2019.
 
“This is 0.07 percent points lower than the rate recorded in December 2018 (11.44) percent. Increases were recorded in all COICOP divisions that yielded the Headline index,” it said.
 
On month-on-month basis, the NBS said the Headline index increased by 0.74 percent in January 2019, same rate as was recorded in December 2018 (0.74) percent.
 
“The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the twelve months period ending January 2019 over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve months period was 11.80 percent, showing 0.3 percent point from 12.10 percent recorded in December 2018.
 
“The urban inflation rate increased by 11.66 percent (year-on-year) in January 2019 from 11.73 percent recorded in December 2018, while the rural inflation rate increased by 11.11 percent in January 2019 from 11.18 percent in December 2018,” it added.
Published in News Economy

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reinstated that he will conduct a free, fair and peaceful presidential election on Saturday and charged Nigerians to turn out massively to cast their votes.

The president, in a nationwide broadcast, assured Nigerians that the government would do its very best to ensure that the 2019 elections take place in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.

“It was indeed such free, fair and peaceful elections that made it possible for our Government to emerge, despite the fact that we were contesting against a long-standing incumbent party.

“And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfill this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.

“Let me at this point, reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates,” he said.

Buhari assured all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection, saying that any comments or threats of intimidation from any source did not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“As Government has a critical role in maintaining the democratic traditions, so do citizens. I therefore urge you all, as good Nigerians, to take a personal interest in promoting and maintaining peace in your respective neighbourhoods during the elections. This is certainly not a time to allow personal, religious, sectional or party interests to drive us to desperation,” he said.

The president appealed to the youth not allow themselves to be used to cause violence and destruction., saying that “the people who want to incite you are those preparing the ground for discrediting the elections. Having lost the argument, they fear losing the elections.”

He said when Nigerians elected him in 2015, it was essentially in consequence of his promise of CHANGE, stressing that “we committed ourselves to improving security across the country, putting the economy on a sound footing and tackling rampant corruption, which had in many ways become a serious drawback to national development.

“Our Government spent the last 3 years and 9 months striving faithfully to keep this promise, in spite of very serious revenue shortages caused mainly by a sharp drop in international oil prices and an unexpected rise in the vandalisation of oil installations, which, mercifully have now been curtailed.”

According to Buhari, “our choices have had consequences about employment and cost of living. In making your choice this time, please ask yourself whether, and in what ways, others will do anything different to address the issues of Agriculture, Infrastructure, Security, Good Governance and Fighting Corruption.

“If they are only hoping to do what we are already doing successfully, we are clearly your preferred choice. Think carefully and choose wisely. This time, it is a choice about consolidating on growth for Jobs and Prosperity. February 16th is all about a choice. But it is more than a choice between APC and the opposition. It is a choice about you, it is a choice between going back or keeping the momentum of CHANGE.

“The road to greater prosperity for Nigeria may be long, but what you can be assured of is a Leadership that is not prepared to sacrifice the future well-being of Nigerians for our own personal or material needs. You can be assured of my commitment to remain focused on working to improve the lives of all Nigerians.”

Published in World
Friday, 15 February 2019 13:39

Onnoghen at CCT: I am not guilty

Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen has pleaded not guilty to charges of non-declaration of assets levelled against him.

Onnoghen arrived the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT on Friday morning after he was threatened with arrest.

The suspended CJN entered the dock to answer charges levelled against him.

Upon the request by the prosecution, the tribunal Chairman ordered that the charge be read to the defendant.

An official of the tribunal read the charge to him, to which he pleaded not guilty.

 

 

Source: PmNews

Published in World
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria has adjourned for further hearing of the N6,441,369,617.73 suit instituted against Zenith Bank Plc, by a Lagos businessman, Olusola Adejugbe and his company Tonique Oil Services limited over alleged excess and illegal charges.
 
By a further amended statement of claim accompanied by written statement on Oath sworn to by Adejugbe and filed before the court by Lanre Ogunlesi SAN, the businessman averred that in the course of his business engagements, his company Tonique Oil Services Limited obtained several credit facilities from Zenith Bank PLC while he pledged three of his properties as securities for the loan facilities.
 
The plaintiffs averred that three different transactions leading to this litigation occurred in the company’s current account whereby excess interest and charges were discovered. The company demanded for a reversal but the bank refused.
 
A forensic accounting firm was commissioned to scrutinize and analyse the Company’s account. It was then discovered that between August 2006 and December 2013, excess interest and charges on the Company’s account by Zenith Bank Plc amounted to N1,842,471,801.99.
 
By a letter dated 19th February 2008, the bank granted Tonique Oil Services Company commercial paper facility of N2,568,644,276.09 to finance the purchase of 30,000MT of Petroleum products, but N2,501,270,000 was credited into the account of the company.
 
However, it was alleged further that instead of Zenith Bank financing the purchase of 30,000 metric tons of Petroleum products for the company as per letter of offer, the entire sum of N2,501,270,000 was diverted by the bank for the purchase of its own shares during the bank’s initial public offer, a conduct that is unethical, unprofessional and reprehensive.
 
In addition, out of the sum of N104,363,212.03 assessed as dividends payable on the bank’s shares only N42,173,498.43 was credited into the company’s account leaving outstanding balance of N62,169,713.60.
 
The bank’s shares purportedly bought by the Tonique Oil Company with the facilities granted by Zenith bank were managed by the bank so much that the bank eventually liquidated the shares after the value has nose-dived and depreciated.
 
Another activity on the Tonique Oil Company current account with the bank was the sale and purchase of a property in Port Harcourt that belonged to one of the shareholders /customers of the bank who needed to clean up some of his obligations to the bank. It was the bank who introduce Tonique Oil company to the shareholders 50,000 square meters of land out of which the company bought 20,000 square metres for the purpose of expanding its business earnings.
 
To facilitate the purchase of the land, the bank offered the company a term loan of N500,000 and it was part of understanding of the company and the bank that after the purchase of the land, the bank will finance the company’s Tank forms to be built thereon.
 
After the purchase of the land, the bank took possession of the title documents of the land as collateral but reneged on the promise and understanding to finance the Company’s tank farm on the land and since 2008 the land had been under the management of the bank and the same had been lying fallow.
 
In this circumstance, the plaintiffs contended that Tonique Oil Company was not indebted to the bank and any alleged indebtedness could only have been arisen as a result of the unconscionable and illegal acts of the bank’s officials in debiting the company’s account with astronomical spurious interest charged, consequently the plaintiffs also contended that such interest charges are illegal in that they contravene the Central Bank of Nigeria Monetary Credit and Foreign Exchange/Trade guidelines.
 
The plaintiffs financial consultant computed other charges that were passed into the account of the company, base on relevant policy circulars, guide to bank charges of Central bank of Nigeria and discovered that the bank excessively overcharged the company on interest on overdraft, COT, and VAT on COT, Management Fees, upcountry transfer fees, interest on commercial paper, foreign exchange purchases and letter of credits.
 
Consequently, the plaintiffs are contending that they are not indebted to the bank rather the bank has overcharged the plaintiffs to several billions of Naira.
 
The plaintiffs are urging the court to declare that Zenith Bank being a bank within the supervisions and control of CBN cannot charge interest on any facilities granted to them beyond the official approved policy rate of the Central bank of Nigeria.
 
The plaintiffs are also urging the court not only to restrain the bank from selling their property pledged as securities for the loan but to also compel Zenith Bank to pay Tonique Oil services company the sum of ₦6,441,369,617.73 being the total excess charges debited into the company’s account by the bank and interest on the same amount at the rate of 21% per annum from the date of judgement of the court until final liquidation.
 
However, by its further statement of defence accompanied with statement on oath sworn to by Senior Assistant Manager, Internal Control and Audit Department of Zenith bank, Vincent Ohanugo and filed before the court, the bank denied almost all the company’s claim and stated that the company was granted the following loans: ₦2.5 billion regular commercial paper , $36 million united state Dollars import finance facility, $6,648,000 commercial paper /usance facility $9 million Dollars import finance facility via usance facility $11 million Dollars short term import facility of ₦500 million.
 
 
Source: PmNews
Published in Bank & Finance
Thursday, 14 February 2019 08:38

Nigeria’s crude oil production falls to 1.999m bpd

Nigeria’s crude oil production including condensate has taken a dip, falling to 1.999 million barrels per day in January from 2.081 million bpd in December, figures from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has revealed.
 
This is contrary to a production benchmark of 2.3m bpd used for the 2019 budget estimates by the Federal Government.
 
However, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, in its latest monthly oil report released on Tuesday, said Nigeria’s oil production dropped to 1.687 million bpd in January from 1.797 million bpd.
 
It would be recalled that OPEC and 10 non-OPEC countries agreed in December to cut oil production by 1.2 million bpd effective from January for an initial period of six months to shore up what many expected to be weakening market fundamentals ahead.
 
Nigeria’s oil production was to be cut by 53,000 barrels to arrive at a new quota of 1.685 million bpd down from Nigeria reference production figure of 1.797m bpd.
 
The OPEC’s 14 members pumped 30.81 million bpd in January, down from 31.60 million bpd in December, according to its Monthly Oil Market Report.
 
Oil prices have recovered since December, when they fell to a 15-month low, with ICE Brent trading above $62 per barrel this week.
 
 
Source: The Ripples
Published in Business
Wednesday, 13 February 2019 12:33

Ex-US President Bill Clinton cancels visit to Nigeria

Former U.S President Bill Clinton has cancelled his scheduled visit to Nigeria, but would speak with the contenders in the Feb. 16 presidential election.
 
Angel Ureña, spokesperson to Clinton, said that the former president would, however, speak with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidential candidate of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), later in the week.
 
He would also speak with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
 
Ureña said the trip was called off because it could be “politicized.”
 
Clinton was scheduled to visit Abuja this week alongside Baroness Patricia Scotland, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
 
The planned trip was facilitated by the Kofi Annan Foundation and the National Peace Committee (NPC).
 
“Over the course of the last several days, and after various conversations with the different stakeholders, it’s become apparent that President Clinton’s visit to Nigeria has the potential to be politicized in a way that is not in line with the goals of the Committee.
 
Therefore, he will not be travelling to Abuja,” Clinton’s spokesman Angel Ureña said in a statement.
 
Clinton would continue to support the NPC‘s work toward peaceful and fair elections in Nigeria, Ureha said.
 
He was billed to deliver a keynote at a ceremony for the signing of a peace accord by presidential candidates.
 
The CNN confirmed the cancellation of the trip on its twitter handle.
 
 
Source: NAN
Published in World
Wednesday, 13 February 2019 08:28

Nigeria’s GDP grows 2.38% in Q4 of 2018

Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP grew by 2.38 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.
 
However, the Real GDP growth posted 5.31 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter basis, with an annual growth rate of 1.93 per cent printed for the fiscal year of 2018.
 
According to the report, the fourth quarter GDP grew by 2.38% as against the 1.81% recorded in the third quarter.
 
Gross domestic product is the total value of everything produced in the country.
 
It is the fourth consecutive quarter of expansion, as the oil sector continued to rise while the non-oil output growth slowed.
 
The fourth quarter GDP growth is 0.27 percent higher than the corresponding period of 2017.
 
Also, the aggregate nominal GDP was at N35.230bn; which is 12.65 per cent higher than N31.275bn recorded in the fourth quarter of 2017.
 
Nigeria’s nominal GDP for the fiscal year of 2018 was at N127.76bn, posting a nominal growth rate of 12.36 per cent above the fiscal year of 2017 level of N113.71bn.
 
 
Source: PmNews
Published in Business
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Saturday in Lagos assured residents of its commitment to secure the nation as well as ensure security of lives and property during and after the general elections.
 
The Air Officer Commanding, NAF Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshal Abdulganiyu Adebisi, gave the assurance during the route march organised for its officers and men at the Sam Ethnam Base in Ikeja.
 
“The essence of the exercise is not to win prize but to foster espirit de corps and physical fitness of individuals through active participation in exercise of this nature.
 
“It is important that we remain both physically and mentally fit to carry out our responsibilities as the defenders of our nation’s territorial integrity and encourage the spirit of sportsmanship in our personnel.
 
“Let me use this medium to re-emphasise that you must all be of good conduct in the forthcoming general elections if you go out to vote.
 
“Don’t be found wanting of any act that constitutes a breach of electoral law as you exercise your franchise,” he said.
 
Adebisi further urged the personnel to carry out their duties as directed and remain good ambassadors of NAF.
 
On the election, Adebisi said the command would work in synergy with other security agencies within the state to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
 
“Lagosisans should rest assured that there will be adequate security coverage for people to go out and cast their vote in a peaceful and calm environment,” he said.
 
The News reports that over 200 officers, Air Men and Women, participated in the exercise which saw them march through the base to the Murtala Muhammed Airport axis and back to the base. 
 
 
Source: NAN
 
Published in World
The federal government of Nigeria on Friday signed investment agreements with three Development Finance Institutions – Afreximbank, Bank of Industry and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) – for the development of special economic zones in the country.
 
With the signing, President Muhammadu Buhari, who presided over the ceremony at the Council Chambers of the Aso Rock Villa, declared that the investment company in the special economic zones (SEZ) will become operational.
 
“Today, we are here to witness the signing of investment agreements, following which the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited will become fully operational,” he said.
 
The federal government set up NSEZCO Limited as a vehicle for participating in Public-Private Partnerships involving federal and state governments and local and foreign private investors to develop new Special Economic Zones all over the country, offering world-class infrastructure and facilities at competitive costs.
 
The projects in the pilot phase include Enyimba Economic City, Funtua Cotton Cluster and Lekki Model Industrial Park.
 
The three DFIs are among the five to partner with NSEZCO and the Ministry of Finance Incorporated. NSEZCO intends to raise at least $500 million in equity over the first five years in order to execute its ambitious strategy of becoming a leading investor in special economic zones in the country. The other investment partners are the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).
 
Called Project MINE (Made in Nigeria for Exports) the development of special economic zones under the direct supervision of the President Muhammudu Buhari, is a presidential special priority intervention aimed at using the zones to attract substantial foreign and domestic investment for the development of world-class facilities dedicated to export-oriented manufacturing in a range of industries across Nigeria.
 
Project MINE seeks to position Nigeria as the pre-eminent manufacturing hub in sub-Saharan Africa and as a major exporter of made in Nigeria goods and services regionally and globally; as well as boosting manufacturing’s share of Gross Domestic Product to 20 per cent; generating $30 billion in annual export earnings; and creating 1.5 million new jobs all by 2025.
 
 Muhammadu Buhari [Photo: Presidency]
Speaking at the signing ceremony, President Buhari said the federal government set up the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited as a vehicle for participating in Public-Private Partnerships involving federal and state governments and local and foreign private investors to develop new Special Economic Zones all over the country. He said, the projects in the pilot phase include Enyimba Economic City, Funtua Cotton Cluster and Lekki Model Industrial Park.
 
The president said the federal government is implementing a comprehensive plan including: “The invitation of experienced Special Economic Zone developers and operators to partner with us to upgrade the federal government owned Free Trade Zones in Calabar and Kano, to offer world-class standards of infrastructure and facilities. Whilst we await the completion of the process of bringing in these investors, the Federal Executive Council has approved the award of contracts in excess of N19.45 billion for the needed investment in Calabar and Kano Free Trade Zones and work is currently ongoing. This is the highest amount of capital investment ever in the history of these zones.”
 
He said: “We have allocated substantial funds to upgrade the capabilities of our people and the systems in the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to strengthen it as a regulator of our Special Economic Zones; and
 
“We are allocating substantial resources to the provision of “outside the fence” infrastructure to ensure that our Special Economic Zones are connected to global, regional and domestic markets.
 
“We are reviewing our incentive framework to ensure competitiveness relative to the other countries with whom we are in the race to attract export-oriented global manufacturing investment.”
 
He added that the federal government will extend the early successes achieved in Ease of Doing Business to the areas critical to globally competitive export-oriented manufacturing operations.
 
He thanked the investment partners for their “strong demonstrations of support for the important initiative.”
 
Okechukwu Enelamah, whose ministry, Industry, Trade and Investment is implementing Project MINE, recalled President Buhari’s choice for special economic zones to hasten industrial development and the mandate to the ministry to attract investors to participate in the project.
 
“This is the reason we are here today. The investors have all agreed to partner with us,” he confirmed.
 
He said the initial projects such as the Enyimba Economic City are underway, while a feasibility study is going on in eight states.
 
The signing of the agreement was done by Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank; Kayode Pitan, Managing Director of Bank of Industry and Uche Orji, Managing Director of NSIA.
 
Femi Edun, a director of NSEZCO and Bakari Wadinga, Director, Ministry of Finance Incorporated, signed on behalf of the company.
 
Speaking separately, they all thanked the federal government for the opportunity to participate in the project and said they are happy to be partners because they believe in it and are confident of its success.
 
Project MINE seeks to achieve the following specific objectives:
 
· Aid structural transformation of the Nigerian economy by increasing the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP to 20 per cent by 2025;
 
· Contribute to sustainable inclusive growth by creating 1.5 million new direct manufacturing jobs in the initial phase of Project MINE;
 
· Increase and diversify foreign exchange earnings to at least $30 billion annually by 2025, by increasing manufacturing sector exports;
 
· Create local models of global best practice in the provision of world-class infrastructure at competitive costs connecting SEZs to international and regional markets with transport links, uninterrupted power, ICT, water, sewage and other services to ensure smooth and efficient operation of SEZ businesses;
 
· Promote the “cluster” effect to be gained by locating similar export-oriented manufacturing businesses within the same locality;
 
· Attract world-class investors with strong positions in global supply chains and investors with the potential to increase the scale of operations rapidly to set up operations in SEZs; and
 
· Create an enabling environment for SEZ businesses by instituting best in class legal and regulatory frameworks, using technology and streamlined processes to facilitate movement of people, goods and capital and easy access to government services, approvals and permits.
 
 
Source: PremiumTimes
Published in Bank & Finance
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