NEC hints on bumper harvest, low food prices

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo PHOTO: NAN

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo PHOTO: NAN

The National Economic Council (NEC), on Tuesday in Abuja, expressed optimism that the nation would experience bumper harvest this year which would force down the prices of foodstuff.

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo, spoke at a joint news briefing with Govs. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo and Jubrilla Bindow of Adamawa at the end of the NEC meeting, presided by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

According to Okorocha, Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbeh, briefed the NEC on progress of government’s agricultural policies, while the state governors agreed to partner federal government in agricultural programmes.

Okorocha said NEC hailed the anchor borrowers’ scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) “as a success story’’ with many states participating in rice farming.

He said: “Agriculture is very key for us to come out of recession and improve quickly on the economy of our nation.

“However, we were concerned about some of the items being imported in this country in the name of food.

“We have cautioned the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, NAFDAC and all agencies that deal with quality of goods to do their best to ensure that rubbish is not sent to this country in the name of food.’’

Okorocha hinted that NEC realised that some of the frozen fish and chicken imported into the country were preserved with “very dangerous chemicals.’’

Gov. Oshiomhole also said that NEC had a very comprehensive brief from the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, on the challenges in the power sector.

He said the nation still did not have enough power coupled with the interruptions “as a result of many factors.

“The level of generation is still far below what the country needs to be able to have stable power supply in the homes and other places,’’ he said.

Oshiomhole, however, said that NEC was satisfied that the government was working on diversifying various sources of power supply including hydro, solar, wind and gas.

The governor noted that the migration from government ownership of power projects to private sector also posed some challenges in the sector.

He said NEC had very robust communication on the issue of tariffs and community problems as well as issues arising from exchange rate as it affected procurement of power infrastructure.

“But on the whole, we are confident that the government is moving in the right direction, adding “there are challenges but those things will be overcome.’’

On the blueprint to deliver housing units for the low income earners, the governor said NEC was satisfied that much of the building materials to be used would be locally made.

He added that housing was an area the administration believed it could generate a good number of jobs.

“Once it gets started, the whole idea is to have a national consensus.

“Regardless of the colour of the government that comes in, the government policy on housing can speak to a Nigerian policy that goes beyond the tenure of any political party.’’

He said NEC called for the sustenance of efforts on housing provision, adding that government would deliver on its promise to provide housing in each of the 36 states of the federation.

On the large number of unoccupied houses in Abuja, Oshiomhole said government would not introduce forceful occupation of private houses, but would provide alternative houses that could force rents down.

The governor of Adamawa Bindo said that one of the things the NEC discussed was the end of the tenure of Gov. Adams Oshiomhole.

He said NEC acknowledged his integrity and commitment to his people and would miss him.

He said NEC wished him well in his future endevours.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that at the end, Oshiomhole introduced the governor-elect of Edo, Mr Godwin Obaseki, to the press corps and asked the corps to extend cooperation to him.

Obaseki said he was delighted to interact with the press corps, adding that the corps had influence on reporting the polity and could not be ignored.

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Budget: Buhari writes NASS to borrow $29.96bn external loan

Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday forwarded a request to the National Assembly to approve external borrowing plan of $29.960 billion to execute key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.

The president also requested for virement of N180.8 billion in the 2016 budget for provision of needed votes for some critical sectors across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.

Buhari made the requests in two separate letters to the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, which were read on the floor of both chambers.

The president, in the external borrowing plan, explained that targeted projects cuts across all sectors with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation.

Other sectors he said included poverty reduction through social safety net programmes and governance and financial management reforms, among others.

According to him, the cost of the projects and programmes under the borrowing (rolling) plan is $29.960 billion.

This is made up of proposed projects and programmes loan of $11.274 billion, Special National Infrastructure projects $10.686 billion, Euro bonds of $4.5 billion and Federal Government budget support of $3.5 billion.

He explained further that the loan was very necessary in view of the serious infrastructure deficit in the country.

He said the country had huge infrastructure deficit and enormous financial resources required to fill the gap in the face of dwindling resources.

“This is in addition to the inability of our annual budgetary provisions to bridge the deficit. It has become necessary to resort to prudent external borrowing to bridge the financing gap.

“This will largely be applied to key infrastructure projects namely power, railway and roads among others,” he added.

Buhari said the N180 billion would be moved from monies already appropriated for special intervention programmes both recurrent and capital for funding of critical recurrent and capital items.

He said the request arose due to shortfalls in provisions for personnel costs; inadequate provision ab initio for amnesty programme; continuing requirements to sustain the war against insurgency; and depreciation of the Naira.

The letter reads in part: “In the course of implementing the 2016 Appropriation Act, several MDAs have presented issues pertaining to salary shortfalls, the settlement of part of which has led to the depletion of the Public Service Wage Adjustment.

“This Vote, which had a provision of N33,597,400,000, now has a balance of N2, 758,296,000.

“The provision for NYSC in the 2016 budget is inadequate to cater for the number of corps members to be mobilised this year.

“In fact, an additional N8.5 billion is required to cover the backlog of 129,469 corps members who are due for call-up but would otherwise be left out till next year due to funding constraints.

“Similarly, the provision for meal subsidy for the Unity Colleges is inadequate for the number of students in the schools.

“Due to the devaluation of the Naira, the budgetary provisions for the foreign missions are no longer sufficient to cover all their costs.”

In another letter dated Oct. 24, the president also requested the National Assembly to approve the virement of funds appropriated for special intervention (recurrent) and special intervention (capital) to fund some critical recurrent and capital items.

According to him, the reasons for the request for virement, include shortfalls in provisions for personnel costs; inadequate provision ab initio for some items like the amnesty programme; continuing requirements to sustain the war against insurgency and depreciation of the naira.

“However, considering the fact that budgeted revenues are running behind target due to the renewed violence in the Niger Delta.

“Also there are no supplementary revenue sources, the most viable option for now is the virement of appropriated funds from heads or sub-heads that may not be fully utilised before the end of this fiscal year,” Buhari added.

An analysis of the proposed virement shows that Public Service Wage Adjustment (PSWA) will gulp N71,800 billion.

“Contingency N1.2 billion, margin for increase in cost N2 billion for cadet feeding – Police Academy, Wudil, Kano, N932.4 million; amnesty programme N35 billion; internal operations of the armed forces N5.205 billion.

“Operation Lafiya Dole N13.933 billion; NYSC N19.792 billion; foreign missions N14.667 billion, and augmentation of meal subsidy/direct teaching and laboratory cost of N900 million bringing the total to N166.630,886,954 billion.

“Statutory transfers to Public Complaints Commission is estimated to gulp N1.2 billion while the virement in respect of capital expenditure for the Nigerian Air Force is N12.708 billion.

“Capital Supplementation: Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE) is N1.5 billion bringing the total to N14,208,367,476 billion.”

Lastly, the president requested that N300 million be vired from the budget of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to fund the construction of 132KVA sub-station of fallen transmission towers, replacement of glass insulators at Gwaram, Jigawa. (NAN)

The post Budget: Buhari writes NASS to borrow $29.96bn external loan appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Starta’s Silicon DrinkUP is happening in Abuja this November


The Silicon DrinkUP will hold on November 14, 2016 from 6.30 pm to 9.30pm, at Ventures Platform, 29 Mambilla Street, Off Aso Drive, Maitama, Abuja.

Silicon DrinkUP is a gathering of the usual suspects in the tech ecosystem; startup founders, developers, designers, investors, incubators, fund managers and other stakeholders. According to the event’s bill, this will be a cocktails and conversations event. Admission to Silicon DrinkUP is free, but attendees have to follow their simple rules of no pitching, no speeches, and no suits and tie.

This event is organised by Starta, in partnership with MEST and Ventures Platform.

There have been three previous editions held in Lagos earlier this year, but this will be the first time it will hold in the capital city.

The first, second and third events have been invite only and this one is no different. Interested attendees can apply here for a chance to get on the guest list.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has ordered MTN to stop paying its shareholders their dividends


The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed MTN Nigeria to stop paying dividends to its shareholders as a result of the ongoing investigations into the company’s financial activities in the country.

This directive was announced at a quarterly briefing of MTN’s shareholders. In a letter to it’s shareholders, MTN Nigeria stated that, “The CBN has instructed the banks to suspend any remittance of dividends until further notice. MTN Nigeria continues to refute the allegations that MTN Nigeria had improperly repatriated funds from Nigeria.”

The company also said they will not be making dividend payments to shareholders over the next six months, and will continue to fight the allegations made against them.

In response, shareholders of the company have raised strong concerns regarding this directive by the CBN. According to them, this move is unnecessary, since the dividends are returns on investments, and as such, have nothing to do with MTN’s other financial dealings.

Sola Abodunrin, President of the Ibadan branch of the Shareholders Association of Nigeria, says,  “If the dividend has been declared in an annual general meeting, MTN has no right to suspend it. The investigation that is going on is a different thing entirely. A dividend that has been declared must be paid.”

MTN is currently under investigation, following the allegations made by Senator Dino Melaye. He accused MTN of repatriating $13.97 billion dollars illegally through its bankers, and the investigation officially commenced last Thursday.

This is not the first time MTN is having trouble in Nigeria. They only just recently concluded a long battle with the NCC over unregistered SIM cards. Not to mention the N16 billion suit courtesy the Copyright Society of Nigeria. I’m curious to see how the telecom giant is going to come out of this one.

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Ecobank has launched an app that will allow customers transact across 33 African countries

ecobank 2

Pan-African bank, Ecobank has launched a new mobile banking app. What’s special about that, you may ask? Well, the app is a unified platform that lets Ecobank customers in 33 African countries shop, send money and pay bills from the convenience of their phones. It is being advertised as the “first unified app delivered by any institution for use in 33 countries.”

Launched in Lagos over the weekend, the app allows customers transfer money across borders without paying fees for everyday transactions. It was designed to work with Ecobank’s Xpress Account, allowing customers open new accounts remotely without paper references.

Speaking at the launch, Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive for Consumer Banking said, “This product launch fulfils our promise to create relevant solutions for consumers. With the Ecobank Mobile App, Ecobank customers can now make and receive instant payments across 33 African countries on their mobile devices. They can also pay in store with their mobile phones. This is genuine convenience delivered to our consumers.”

Ecobank MD, Charles Kié, explained the choice of Lagos as their launch location saying, “Nigeria is a leading hub for entrepreneurship and technology for Ecobank. This is why we chose Lagos as the venue to launch the Ecobank Mobile App. This new product will allow customers in Nigeria and other affiliates across our vast network, to grow their businesses by giving them a convenient and secure way of banking.”

Ecobank hopes to leverage on this app to reach its target of attaining 100 million customers “in a profitable and sustainable way.” The ability to transact across African borders seals the deal for me. I hope this will spur other financial institutions to tow the same line and ultimately translate into better service for customers.

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Recession: CAN chairman gives condition for divine intervention

Femi Makinde, Osogbo

The Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in North Central  Zone, Rev. Israel Akanji, has said God is willing to help Nigeria out of its present economic crisis provided Nigerians and their leaders are ready to shun corruption, greed and bloodshed.

Akanji said this in an interview with journalists in Iwo on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 10th commencement  lecture of the Bowen University for the university’s fresh students.

The cleric, who is also the CAN  chairman in the Federal capital Territory said God was willing to end the economic and other crises facing Nigeria but stressed that  Nigerians must shun their sinful acts which he said brought the problems.

Akanji said, “Our nation,  Nigeria, we have the hope that the recession we are in is just going to be short lived. God who owns and put  this nation together who has continued to uphold this nation will definitely bring us out and place pur feet on the rock and put a new song in our mouth to sing.

“But we must repent of our sinfulness,  corruption and all kinds of greed. Once  we change our attitude, God will change in his own treatment to us, he is waiting for us.

“He says in his word ‘if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn away from their wicked ways I will hear, I will heal and forgive their land.

“God is ready to do so  but we should start by loving one another and stop bloodshed, kidnapping, stealing, witchcraft and look up to him he will divinely turn things around for us in Nigeria.”

The post Recession: CAN chairman gives condition for divine intervention appeared first on Punch Newspapers.

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