Jigawa earmarks over N1.3bn for water, schools projects across villages

By Abdulwaheed Usamah, from Jigawa State

Towns and villages across Jigawa State may soon start receiving face lift on focal developmental areas as government disclosed its concluded plans to spend over N1.3 billion on water, building of classrooms and other educational infrastructure projects in the state.

The resolve, as it was learnt, was said had been teach at the state executive council weekly meeting where the board approved, awarded contract of 100 hand pumps and 25 water connection points; building of 100 Islamic classrooms across the state’s 18 constituencies; and other schools and areas projects within the state.

Through a statement released on Wednesday by the Commissioner, Jigawa State Ministry of Information, Youth, Sports and Culture, Bala Ibrahim, the State government disclosed that the executive council approved award of contract for construction of 110 hand pumps and 24 water connection points in different towns and villages across the state at sum of N119,216,536.

According to the statement, for purpose of addressing issues relating to Islamiyya Quranic and Tsangaya Education, was also to reduce large numbers of out of school children and generally improve teaching and learning in the state, the state’s executive consented to awarding contract for construction of 100 classrooms across 18 constituencies across Jigawa which was estimated to N170,023,626.

Placing high premium and given top priority to the education, the state government  hinted that for its “Education Change Agenda” which is major concept is to address daunting challenges of congestion in schools, dearth of teachers both in terms of quality and quantity, inadequate instruction materials, infrastructure, decay and large number of out of school children among others, the meeting concluded plans to also awarded commencement of various projects in different areas and schools across the state of which is to cost the government N1,025,470,582.

Oyo releases N13bn for LG workers, pensioners arrears


By Jide Ajia

The Oyo State Government has disbursed over N13 billion to settle five months salaries owed local government workers and primary school teachers as well as pensioners in the state.

The State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Bimbo Kolade, made the revelation in Ibadan on Wednesday.

He explained that the N13.7 billion released to the ministry from the office of the State’s Accountant General comprised the April, May and June allocations for local governments in the state and a share from Paris Club refund.

Kolade stressed that the N13.7 billion was inclusive of Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) funds, adding that N3.088 billion was released for April, N3.396 billion for May and N5.255 billion for June while N2 billion was released for Local government workers and pensioners’ welfare by Governor Abiola Ajimobi from the refunded second tranche of N7.9 Paris Club fund.

The commissioner charged all caretaker chairmen to be prudent with the fund, expressing optimism that outstanding salaries of some 15 council areas put at an average of two months would be paid.

He cautioned the caretaker chairmen against over bloated staff strength which he said always made it difficult for them to offset their wage bills promptly, urging that they should limit their ad-hoc staff to only those they could afford to pay their bills as at when due.

FG shows commitment to agro-allied sector, revive 5 fertiliser plants


By Jide Ajia

The Federal Government says five fertiliser blending plants would be revived by the end of August to complement the existing 11 under the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI).

The President, Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN), Thomas Etuh,  said in Lagos on Wednesday during a facility tour of ENL terminal and Tak Logistics warehouses at Apapa and Tin Can Ports, where raw materials for fertiliser production were been discharged.

Etuh explained that work to revamp the five plants located in Benue, Edo, Zamfara, Plateau and Kano had neared completion.

According to her, five plants would join in fertiliser production by the end of August and that would ensure that fertiliser gets closer to the domain of agro dealers and farmers.

“Eleven plants located in eight states are already producing fertiliser and by August the number of functional plants will be put at 16. The Federal Government targets to have 20 fertiliser plants working by the end of this year (2017),’’ Etuh said.

The FEPSAN president also said that efforts were being made to accelerate the ongoing discharge of fertiliser blending materials (phosphate and potash) at the Lagos ports to ensure plants get delivery for production as soon as possible.

Etuh attributed the delay in the discharge of the materials to constant rainfall in Lagos.

Also, the Executive Director, Tak Logistics, (the company providing logistics for the discharge of the fertiliser blending materials), Ankush Arora, assured that more machines and workers would be deployed to enable them discharge the materials.

“About six vessels berthed here in Apapa and Tin Can ports respectively and each of the vessels carries about 33,000 tonnes of phosphate and potash.The vessels are from Morocco and Spain. “We are working hard to see that all these vessels are discharged within the next three weeks,’’ Onyebara said.

The Managing Director, Tak Logistics, Kelvin Onyebara, explained that security agents have been deployed to the discharging terminals at the ports to ensure a 24-hour service.

Onyebara said that company had resolved to put everything into use for a successful implementation Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) under the Buhari-led administration.

SEC faults 2017 budget appropriation, analyses negative impact on capital market

By Jide Ajia

Despite delay that characterized passage of 2017 budget, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has picked holes in appropriation of the yearly spending plan that, it has harmful effects in operation of the Capital Market.

SEC, the apex regulator of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), disclosed the economic undesirable effects while briefing finance and investment journalists after at its quarterly Capital Market Committee Meeting (CMC) held on Wednesday in Lagos.

The Director General, SEC, Munir Gwarzo, said indirect effects of budgets on the capital market could be negative when the federal government put upward pressures on inflation and interest rates, or cause uncertainties in the foreign exchange market.

He hinted further that inflation spiral could be a cause and consequence of exchange rate bubbles and the net effect of such pressures could be negative on the stock market, if urgent attention was not paid to correct it.

Gwarzo stressed the commission has looked at the theoretical links between the capital market and budget with the aid of historical microeconomic data for Nigeria, adding that expenditure has correlated with the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.

He, however, recommended the federal government to keep a tab on deficit financing, adding that high budget deficits tends to increase cost of borrowing for any given country.

The SEC boss also canvassed that investor education efforts particularly on the role of capital market in economic development should be strengthened and widened to include targeting the policy makers, practitioners and academics.

In addition, Gwarzo averred that the National Pension Commission and Pension Funds Administrators (PFAs), should take active steps to encourage creation of pension investments portfolios that were more diversified by exposing younger workers to take a greater percentage of equities since they have a longer time horizon to invest.

The Head, Vertical Market Group, Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), Samuel Goriola Oluyemi, on e-dividend mandate, stated that registrants stood at 2.1 million, while investors captured through NIBSS account currently stands at 838.68 million and total unique investors identified through Bank Verification Number (BVN) moved to 433.16 million.

While given further analyses of active investors in Nigerian capital market through e-dividend mandate, Oluyemi explained the ratio of male to female investors in the country was approximated at 2 to 1, while male investors constituted 65 per cent, the female counterpart contributed 35 per cent.

Oluyemi also disclosed to the financial press that investment statistics based on states of residence showed that investors in Lagos contributed 38 per cent, followed with Abuja based investors with eight percent and Rivers (6 per cent), Ogun and Oyo State (5 per cent) respectively.

Other investment statistics based on state of origin included investors who hailed from Anambra (10 percent), Imo (9 per cent); Ogun (9 percent); Delta (7 per cent) and Edo State contributed six per cent to the investment window.

Based on nationality, the NIBSS expert stated that investors in Nigeria, based on figures, were put at 421.37 million; Indian (146m); British (142m); Ghanaians (109); Lebanese (46m) and American investors in Nigeria capital market were 32 million.

FG to auction N135bn bonds in August 23rd– DMO

By Jide Ajia

The Debt Management Office (DMO) has disclosed that Federal Government is offering for subscription and auctioning of N135 billion bonds in its Aug. 23 public sale.

The offering circular obtained from the DMO’s website on Tuesday in Abuja, indicated that it would sell N35 billion of a bond, to mature in July 2021, at 14.50 per cent.

It would also sell N50 billion at 16.28 per cent to mature in March 2027, while another N50 billion of paper would be sold at 16.24 per cent, to mature in April 2037.

All the bonds on offer were expected to reopening previous issues, the circular said.

It should be recalled that the federal government of Nigeria issues sovereign bonds monthly to support the local bond market, which also created a benchmark for corporate issuance to fund its budget deficit and maintain a benchmark for companies to follow.

The debt office will sell N35 billion of bonds due in 2021 and N50 billion each of bonds due in 2027 and in 2037, using a Dutch Auction System (DAS), while settlement is expected two days after the sale.

The West African country expects a budget deficit of N2.36 trillion this year as it tries to spend its way out of a recession and expects to raise money to cover more than half the deficit from the local market.

Bureau de change operators pledge support for IDPs

By Jide Ajia

The Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has pledged to assist in reducing the plight of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-East.

President of the group, Aminu Gwadabe, made the pledge in an interview with finance and industry-based journalists on Tuesday, in Lagos.

Gwadabe stressed that members of the association were willing to make voluntary contributions to meet the humanitarian challenges in the IDP camps in the north-east.

According to him, the planned support for the IDPs was in line ABCON’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and members’ sacrifices toward assisting the oppressed, adding that the association had also resolved to solicit for help for the internally displaced persons in the country.

While commending international organisations and some philanthropic Nigerians for their contributions so far in ameliorating the suffering of the IDPs, Gwadabe hinted that the IDPs lacked a voice for international support and ABCON was set to come to their aid.

He said the association was particularly moved by the recent donation of N360 million by 18 state governments from the north to cushion the suffering of the IDPs and the recent donation by 18 governors from the north was commendable and he called for a prudent management of the resources generated for the IDPs.

It was reported that since the commencement of the insurgency in 2014, close to two million people have been displaced and 32 IDP camps created to cater for their needs.

Meanwhile the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said that about 6.5 million people have been marked for life-saving assistance in north-eastern Nigeria in 2017.

OCHA said that of the figure, an estimated 1.9 million people had been displaced in Adamawa, Bauchi, Bornu, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.

The UN agency said about $1.1 billion was required to meet the needs of the people, adding that about $480.1 million had been spent so far while $574.3 million remained the funding gap.

Dangote boosts Niger agric business with $450m

By Jide Ajia

As part of bids to encourage local content through agricultural produce across the country, the Dangote Group of companies has announced intent to commit a whoop of $450 million to enhance agro-allied business in Niger State.

The President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, on Monday said the company would invest the sum and stretched it over the next three years.

Dangote, during the 2017 Niger State Investment Summit in Minna, said the funds would be used to establish a large scale rice processing mill to process over 200, 000 metric tonnes of paddy rice.

He said that a state-of-the-art fully integrated sugar refining industry would also be established.

“Our company is also establishing a state of the art fully integrated sugar industry involving the development of over 30,000 hectares of sugar cane plantation and the production of about 500, 000 metric tonnes of refined sugar. We are very excited about these investments and look forward to kick starting this mutually beneficial partnership with the government and good people of Niger State,” he said.

Dangote, who was represented by Mansur Ahmed, noted that the company also planned to invest over $1 one billion in agricultural production and processing of selected commodities like sugar, rice and tomatoes across the country.

According to him, Niger has become the destination of choice for investment in the agricultural sector given its rich and vast arable land.

He said that the company was poised to leverage on that toward a virile agriculture based economy.

Dangote said that the group would also continue to engage governments at the federal and state levels where there were great potential to explore investment opportunities.

The Commissioner for Investment, Commerce and Industry, Ramatu Yardua, said the aim of the summit was to market the state as an investment destination in agriculture considering its enormous potential which were largely untapped.

Yardua said that agriculture was key to moving the country out of recession, adding that the state was committed to creating a conducive and enabling environment for would be investors.

The summit, which was designed as: Impact investing for advancing agricultural economy and innovation would end on Aug. 15.

Pension fund hits N6.5trn in July

By Jide Ajia

The nation’s pension funds, under Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), has grew to about N6.5 trillion as at the end of July 2017, even as the number of pension contributors rose significantly to 7. 6 million.

As at the end of July 2017, the fund increased to about N6.5 trillion from N6.4 trillion it stood at as at April ending.

Moreover, The Guild gathered that between April and June this year, there were 97,713 Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holders registered under the new pension scheme, with 77,023 contributors from the private sector.

9,148 workers from the federal government registered under the CPS, while state governments recorded 11,542 contributors, thus, increasing the total number of pension contributors from inception of the scheme till now to 7.6 million.

In the same vein, report has it that between April and June, 2017, the pension fund gained about N7.5 billion as private sector added N4.1 billion to the pension pool, with states contributing N1.5 billion, while the federal government added N1.8 billion to the pension funds.

The fund is growing despite the fact that federal government has accumulated about N200 billion pension arrears under the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) and Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), even as most states as well as some companies in the private sector are still defaulting in remittance to RSAs of their workers.

The reason for the constant growth in pension assets, was not unconnected to the fact that pension contributions were made on a monthly basis to the RSAs of employees, while the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) also made a lot of profits from investment of these funds into federal government bonds, stock market and other less risky investment windows that also go into the pension pool.

Moreover, with some states now ready to join the CPS, as well as the readiness of the federal government to settle some of its arrears, and the National Pension Commission (PenCom) going after defaulting employers, experts said these could push the fund even beyond the aforementioned amount.

The Executive Director, Crusader Sterling Pension, Conrad Ifode, said the investment income from pension assets was regarded as a key factor that keeps the fund growing at an acceptable rate, just as the pension assets now has about N2.3 trillion as income from investment of the assets, adding that the security of the fund was also a crucial factor.

Speaking at a retreat organized by the Pension Fund Operators of Nigeria (PenOp) for pension journalists in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Sunday, Ifode stated that the workers’ contributions were paid by their employers regularly, adding that the PFAs comply with their legal obligations, with no case of fraud recorded nor has any PFA gone bankrupt since inception of the scheme, which he pointed out, showed that the contributors’ funds were safe.

The Director, Centre for Pension Right Advocacy, Ivor Takor, said most of the PFAs were making money from investment of the pension funds and that some of the profits also goes back into the fund, which increases its volume.

Takor, who is also a former board member of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), however, appealed to the federal government and states to pay their respective pension arrears, as this will go a long way to redeem the lost image of the new pension scheme which has been recently criticised for various reasons, among which is the multitude of arrears owed, just like what was happening in the old scheme.

He applauded the steps taken by PenCom in partnering with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as other relevant agencies to prosecute defaulting employers, stating that this will also ensure more compliance in the private sector and make sure the fund keeps growing from time to time.h

Lafarge Holcim highlights growth strategy, economic impact in Nigeria

By Jide Ajia

Lafarge Africa’s parent company, Lafarge Holcim, has disclosed its contribution to the socio-economic status of Nigeria through a wide range of cement solutions designed to meet all building and construction needs.

The Plant Manager for  Line 1 and 2, Lafarge Holcim, Olusegun Shoyoye, told some journalists during a tour of the plant on weekend, that Lafarge Holcim cherished doing business in Nigeria and would continue to invest in the nation’s economy whilst building on values to make the best building and construction solutions available across the country.

Briefing journalists at Ewekoro in Ogun State, Shoyoye, who led other team members explained further that the plant’s safe and sustainable solutions to housing and infrastructure development in Nigeria and beyond has repositioned it for growth over the years.

Holcim Nigeria became a part of Lafarge Africa following the merger of Lafarge and Holcim in 2015 and it originally owned a stake in the United Cement Company of Nigeria (UNICEM) along with Lafarge.

A publicly quoted company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Lafarge Africa serves Nigeria and South Africa wit from small projects like individual home buildings to major construction projects.

Shoyoye, while taking journalists through Lafarge Holcim’s plant production and exploration activities stressed that Lafarge Africa Plc is one of the 90 locations in which Lafarge Holcim is present, with headquarters in Lagos.

“Our Line 1 and 2 plants are environmentally friendly. The technology is modern and we conduct regular test to avoid degradation and any form of pollution or contamination. Before we started construction of Line 2, we did an impact assessment and undertake constant impact mitigation monitoring.

He said the multinational company do engage youths in host communities in business and enrolled some of them in Cement Professional Technician Programme (CPTP), which involves the training of youths in the cement manufacturing process.

“Our aim is to empower the host communities, with a unique business opportunity to develop small businesses as our bigger plant would create employment and enable people provide for their families”, said Shoyoye.

The development, Shoyoye further explained has increased local content of Lafarge Holcim operations in Nigeria and skills gap in the cement industry.

“We are guided strictly by international laws and conventions and that is the good thing about Line 1 and 2 technologies. It is advanced and assures the best environmental control,” Shoyoye stated.

On her part, the Environment Manager, Lafarge Holcim, Olufunke Madojutimi, said that safety and protection of the environment were of priority concern to the cement producing company.

Madojutimi stressed that the multinational company has trained youths to imbibe the culture of safety first, as they operate in any Lafarge facility.

The three-year all-expense-paid residential programme includes training in mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and automation technology, cement manufacturing process and entrepreneurship.

The youths would also receive practical and theoretical training at Lafarge’s state-of-art centres and plants in Ewekoro, with possibility for those who successfully complete the training programme would be offered employment.

Head, Corporate Communications, Lafarge Holcim, Osagie Ogunbor, added that the logistics academy was a follow-up project to a road safety project and drivers academy previously established by the cement producer to ensure sound safety culture, process efficiency and good performance among truck drivers.

Ogunbor stressed that Lafarge Holcim is committed to developing people and environs with focus to add value and be relevant in employing more Nigerians to the multinational’s fold when necessary and where needed.

Other team members include Health and safety manager, Sulaimon Agbedejobi and Maintainace Manager, Adamu Mohammed.