Investment expert predicts mixed performance for Nigerian stock market

By Jide Ajia

The Chief Operating Officer, InvestData, Ambrose Omordion, has predicted that activities at the nation’s exchange market in current week would be trailed with profit taking following fund managers window dressing.

Omordion added that the  market would witness profit taking after month-end dressing by fund managers and experience mixed performance due to expected account rebalancing by fund managers which would lead to profit taking in preparation for the month of August.

The investment expert, who spoke to journalists in a short interview on Monday, stated that the mixed performance would not last for longtime due to investors’ anticipation of more improved half year earnings yet to be released in the market.

He attributed recent market growth to investors’ last minute positioning for earnings expectations, adding that most of the earnings released last week beat market and analysts expectations.

He noted that positive economic data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), contributed to the market growth; Omordion, however, called for quick implementation of the 2017 budget to sustain the market and economic growth.

Meanwhile, at the close of first trading day for the week, a turnover of 2.21 billion shares worth N30.64 billion exchanged in 26,287 deals as against 3.63 billion shares valued at N34.89 billion were transacted in 19,834 deals.

Checks on daily trading statistical data showed that Financial Services industry led the activity chart with 1.74 billion shares worth N19.04 billion traded in 14,626 deals and contributed 78.45 per cent and 62.16 per cent to the total equity turnover volume and value respectively during the review period.

The Conglomerates sector followed with a turnover of 165.39 million shares worth N454.24 million achieved in 1,400 deals, while third place was occupied by Consumer Goods Industry with a turnover of 135.80 million shares valued at N6.68 billion exchanged in 4,143 deals.

As a result, the All-Share Index during the review period rose by 2,844.34 points or 8.36 per cent to close at 36,864,71, when compared with 34,020.37 posted in the previous week due to massive gains.

Also, the market capitalisation which opened at N11.725 trillion appreciated by N980 billion or 8.36 per cent to close at N12.705 trillion.

A breakdown of the price movement table showed Conoil led the gainers’ table in percentage terms, gaining 21.41 per cent or N6.42 to close at N36.40 per share, Presco followed with a gain of 20 per cent or N12.20 to close at N73.20, while Dangote Sugar Refinery increased by 19.34 per cent or N1.76 to close at N10.85 per share.

Conversely, Cadbury topped the losers’ chart for the week in percentage terms, dropping by 18.17 per cent or N2.32 to close at N10.45 per share.

Morrison Industries trailed with a loss of 17.58 per cent or 29 kobo to close at N1.36 and Livestock Feeds declined by 13.33 per cent or 12 kobo to close at 78 kobo per share.

EU labels Egyptian goose, alligator weed as dangerous

By NewsDesk

The European Commission on Wednesday added 12 species to list of so-called invasive aliens, among them the Egyptian goose and alligator weed.

A statement by the EU noted that invasive alien species were one of the major causes of biodiversity loss, and had significant negative economic impact on healthcare costs, crop yields, fish stocks and infrastructure.

It stated that the Egyptian goose, recognised as an agricultural pest in South Africa, was known to be aggressive toward other birds, drowning other species and taking over nesting sites.

The EU statement indicated that most Egyptian geese reported in Europe were escapees from parks or captivity.

The new list also includes common milkweed, Nuttall’s waterweed, giant rhubarb, giant cow parsnip, Himalayan balsam, Japanese stiltgrass, watermilfoil, the raccoon dog, the muskrat and crimson fountain grass.

Meanwhile, EU member states were required to prevent the listed species from being introduced, kept, sold, transported, reproduced or released.

Kaduna farmers raise fear of low yield

By NewsDesk

Some farmers in Kaduna State have raised the fear of having low yield in the 2017 cropping season due to lack of inputs to work with.

A cross-section of the farmers, who spoke to newsmen on Wednesday, wondered why the state government could not provide the inputs.

They said most farmers were yet to receive fertilizer and variety of seeds as promised by the state government, three months after the wet season had set in.

A farmer, Saminu Rigachikun, said they waited and waited but nothing up to now. And ot even the fertilizers that used use their money to procure.

“How will the government say it’s committed to the ordinary farmer to produce more food for local consumption and export when it cannot  provide the basic items and services to the farmer,’’ Rigachikun asked.

He alleged that the state government had directed farmers to forward details of their cooperative groups and all necessary bank details for agricultural loans, but months after nothing has happened.

Another farmer, Bello Bature, said most farmers had since April completed formalities for the loan, but the  was yet to respond.

“All the necessary documentation have been made and submitted to the officials handling the loan scheme. It’s over three or four months now, but from all indications the state government will not do anything to assist the farmers and time is running out,’’ Bature said.

Another farmer, Jummai Bako was also unhappy with regards to their inability to access the loan and other vital inputs.

“We are still calling on the state government to fulfil the promises made to farmers and provide them with improved varieties of Rice seeds, Soy beans. We are also crying out for help to procure fertilizers at a subsidize rate.”

“Fadama farmers also need to be assisted with water pumps, among other farming inputs which they require to facilitate production in the state. Already wet season rice and maize farmers are out there battling with the little they could get after waiting in pains for inputs from government.  Kebbi state is an example in terms of rice and Jigawa state in wheat production, among many other states, “ Bako said.

“Their state governments gave them all the needed support to increase production and look at where they are now. Kebbi produces rice in millions of tones,’’ she stated.

However, it was gathered that most farmers who benefited from the agricultural loans in the 2016 farming season were not refunding.

It was learnt that the state government was yet to recover the N4 billion released under the CBN anchor borrower’s programme.

An information officer in the state Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Development, Dahiru Abdullahi , said that more than 11,000 farmers benefited from the scheme.

Abdullahi said that despite setting up of a task force for loans recovery, the state government had not recovered half of the loan given to farmers during the 2016 crop season.

Giant iceberg breaks off Antarctica

By NewsDesk with agency report

A trillion-tone iceberg, one of the largest ever recorded, has snapped off the West Antarctic ice shelf, scientists who have monitored the growing crack for years said on Wednesday.

The Swansea University said in a statement. That the calving occurred sometime between Monday, July 10 and Wednesday, July 12, when a 5,800-square kilometer (2,200-square mile) section of Larsen C (ice shelf) finally broke away.

The massive ice cube, larger than the US state of Delaware, has a volume twice that of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. It is about 350 meters (1,100 feet) thick.

“The iceberg weighs more than a trillion tones, but it was already floating before it calved away so has no immediate impact on sea level,” the team said, adding that It would likely be named A68.

With the calving, the Larsen C ice shelf lost more than 12 percent of its total surface area.

Icebergs calving from Antarctica are a regular occurrence. But given its enormous size, the latest berg would be closely watched as it travels, for any potential risk to shipping traffic.

“The calving may have heightened the risk of the remaining ice shelf disintegrating, the Swansea team said, adding that ice shelves float on the sea, extending from the coast, and are fed by slow-flowing glaciers from the land.

They act as giant brakes, preventing glaciers from flowing directly into the ocean.

“If the glaciers held in check by Larsen C spilt into the Antarctic Ocean, it would lift the global water mark by about 10 centimeters (four inches),” researchers said.

The calving of ice shelves occurs naturally, though global warming is believed to have accelerated the process.

Warmer ocean water erodes the underbelly of the ice shelves, while rising air temperatures weaken them from above.

The nearby Larsen A ice shelf collapsed in 1995, and Larsen B dramatically broke up seven years later.

The final break was detected by a NASA satellite.

The lead investigator, Adrian Luckman of the university’s MIDAS project, said they would continue to monitor both the impact of this calving event on the Larsen C ice shelf and the fate of this huge iceberg.

The fate of the berg is hard to predict and It may stay in one piece, but could also break into fragments.

The team said the calving at the iceberg cannot be directly placed at the door of global warming, describing it as a natural event.

Human actions have lifted average global air temperatures by about one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial levels, according to scientists.

Antarctica is one of the world’s fastest-warming regions.

Katsina State spends N6bn on flood control

By NewsDesk

The Katsina State Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Abubakar Ilu, has disclosed that the state spent N6 billion on flood control projects in 2017.

Ilu , speaking during the opening of 2017 Mandatory Continuing Professional Development Programme of Nigeria Institute of Town Planners tagged Enhancing the Livability of Formal Settlement, explained that the fund was spent on the construction of drainage to prevent soil erosion, environmental degradation and flooding.

Ilu further said that the government would review the Master Plans for Katsina, Daura and Funtua, with a view to upgrading informal settlements.

He  also disclosed that the administration would soon roll out the electronic certification of land titles in line with international standard.

In his remarks, National President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners,  Luka Achi, urged the planners to devise a scheme that would discourage rural-urban migration in the country.

‘‘Our rural areas should be made more lively, try to come up with measures that will assist to address issues like soil erosion and other forms of effects of climate change in rural areas,’’ Achi said, expressing the hope that such policy would assist greatly in discouraging rural dwellers from migrating to urban centres.

In his speech, the Chairman of the professional development programme, Prof. Joy Ogbazi ,said that informal settlements present special problems in the planning and management of urban areas.

‘‘What they are, how they develop and proliferate, and the problems they engender are to be explored in this year’s programme,’’ she said.

Minister targets November for rice production self sufficiency, reduction in commodity price

By NewsDesk

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,  Audu Ogbeh, has said that the country would be self sufficient in rice production by November, which he said would force a reduction in the price of the commodity.

Ogheh frowned on what he called the people’s unbridled penchant and taste for foreign foods, most of which, he said, were not as healthy and nutritious as those produced locally.

The minister made the assurance while addressing a town hall meeting on sustainable agriculture, which was attended by farmers, youths, women and other stakeholders in agriculture, held in Ibadan, Oyo State capital yesterday.

The dialogue, which featured question and answer session, was hosted by the Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, and the Commissioner for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, Prince Oyewole Oyewumi.

The meeting, which was called to chart a new path for agriculture rebirth, climaxed a two-day working visit by the minister to agricultural facilities, including farms, dams, farm settlements and others across the state.

Ogheh lamented what he called the culture of wastages and abandonment in the country, which, he said, accounted for decaying facilities and monuments dotting the landscape.

“By November we will be self sufficient in rice production. We will no longer need to import rice. And let me tell you, our rice is safer, tastier and healthier than the foreign ones. “Patronize our farmers, eat healthy. Eat Nigerian rice,” he said.

“ Another cheering news is that we will soon bring down the price of rice. Nigerians should embrace local products and stop importation of useless things. We are a country that has penchant for importation without exporting anything,” Ogheh stated.

In fact, some people will even order for pizza from London for delivery by British Airways. They will tell you London pizza tastes better. We import champagnes, cookies, toilet papers and even toothpicks. We have this taste for foreign products. This is killing us, it is killing our economy,” he stated.

The minister, who disclosed that Oyo State topped the list of cashew producers in the country, said that a cashew processing plant would be established in the state within the next six months.

While urging the governor to prevail on land owners to surrender them for agricultural purposes, he said that the Federal Government Government was prepared to join hands with the state government on its agric revolution.

He expressed regret that overdependence of the country on accruals from oil production had robbed it of the development of other sectors, especially agriculture, which he said was once the nation’s cash cow.

“For instance, I was almost in tears when I got to Ikere Gorge Dam yesterday (Monday) and saw the magnitude of waste and what Nigeria is losing from its abandonment since 1982. It is pathetic. This dam has the capacity to irrigate 12,000 hectares of farm land,” the minister said.

He said that he remembered that they visited the dam in 1982 and brought the required turbines to complete the project and he  almost wept when he met the turbines lying fallow at the dam without being fixed.

“This was a dam that has capacity to generate at least seven megawatts of electricity. Ikere is just one of the 22 dams in Oyo State, which is the second highest in Nigeria next to Kano that has 23 dams.

“We fought the civil war with revenue from agriculture, with at least $1m (today’s N367m) per day. The money came from cocoa, groundnut, soya beans and the rest. But today, the disappearance of oil money has exposed our nakedness,” Ogheh stated.

In his remarks, Ajimobi commended the federal government for its commitment to the survival of the country through initiatives such as the latest agriculture renaissance.

The governor recalled that many monuments located in Ibadan, which were mostly the first of their kind in Africa, such as the Liberty Stadium, Cocoa House, University of Ibadan, the Nigerian Television Authority and others were built with proceeds from agriculture.

He appealed to the people to change their mentality that are inimical to the growth of agriculture, which he said was paramount to the economic survival of the country.

“I don’t know why we are shunning agriculture. I want to put it on record here that I’m also a farmer, because the country’s law did not forbid the president, governors and other political office holders from going into farming.

“Oyo must become the food basket of the nation. No agric, no food and when there is no food, there is no life and no living, no nation. To survive and live well you must make money. The money is in agriculture,” Ajimobi stated.

“The FG is now providing many incentives for the people to embrace agriculture. We need to start thinking of the future today. Let us think of agriculture today for our survival. Let us all work. Let us all do agriculture.

“The highest employer of labour in an underdeveloped country like Nigeria is agriculture. We are underdeveloped because any nation that cannot feed its people is underdeveloped,” he added.

Ajimobi restated the preparedness of the state to partner the FG to complement its agric projects aimed at enhancing food sufficiency in the country.

FG to distribute 500,000 farm inputs to farmers

By NewsDesk

The Director, Farm Input Support Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ohiare Jatto ,has disclosed that Federal Government is to start distribution of farm inputs to farmers for the 2017 wet season farming in August.

Jatto, speaking to newsmen on Monday in Abuja, said that at least 300,000 to 500,000 farmers across the country would benefit from the programme, adding that the setback experienced in the distribution of the inputs, under the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme, was as due to the delay in the release of the 2017 budget.

“We still owe agro dealers a lot of money and we want to clear the debt as soon as we have money to enable them to participate in the programme,’’ he said.

The director said that although the Federal Government had settled part of the debt owed during the 2014 wet season and 2014/2015 dry season farming, the money paid was insignificant, when compared to the outstanding one.

“There will be farm inputs for farmers this year but the timing is the factor.We are still hoping to start inputs distribution between the last week of July and first week of August, all things being equal, if we are able to pay the agro dealers. We know that agriculture is time-bound and we are bothered. We are thinking that by now, money would have been released but up till now, it has not been released and this is delaying our operations,” he explained.

“This has been the problem; the Federal Ministry of Finance has commenced the payment but the money released was small because some of the agro dealers are already indebted to banks.“ The government agreed to pay them in instalments for the 2014 and 2014/2015 wet and dry season farming until the whole debt is cleared. For the 2016/2017 dry season farming, we are planning to pay them 100 per cent,” he added.

Agro dealers in May staged a protest, asking the Federal Government to settle their N39 billion claims from the GES scheme.

The Federal Government had, however, approved N12.5 billion as part-payment for the claims.

Osinbajo visits collapsed Mokwa-Jebba bridge, promises repair within two weeks

By Newsdesk

The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo hasd visited the collapsed Mokwa-Jebba Bridge in Niger State for on-the-spot assessment of the damage and promised that the bridge would be repair within two weeks.

Osinbajo, who was accompanied by the State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said during the visit on Monday that the Federal Government would soon rehabilitate the collapsed bridge, Tatabu in Mokwa Council Area linking Northern and Western parts of the country.

The bridge collapsed last month, as a result of flood at Tatabu village in Mokwa Local Government Area of the state.

The acting president, who advised motorists plying the road to exercise patience, described the incident as unfortunate, addinmg that the construction of an alternative bridge would be completed within 14 days to ease movement of traders and goods.

“We have come here to look at the bridge because this road is very important to us as a government and this axis is very important to motorists and the country. The Federal Government will make sure that the collapsed bridges along Tegina/Mokwa and Jebba/Mokwa roads are done immediately and all repairs on the roads are done. We commend your patience and want you to continue to be patient with us, very shortly, the bridge will be completed within a forth night,’’ he said.

Osinbajo stated that adequate personnel had been mobilised to ensure quick completion of the collapsed bridges.

“We are working on the two bridges as emergency and everybody is fully mobilised; government is committed to maintenance of all roads across the country,’’ he added.

He, however, cautioned motorists against loading their vehicles above the approved road standard of 35 tonnes per vehicle.

Similarly, Abubakar  commended motorists for their patience, and appealed to the Federal Government to rehabilitate all federal roads in the state to reduce sufferings of road users.

Minister advises FG’s  yam export policy critics to grow yam

By NewDesk

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh , has advised critics of the Federal Government yam export policy to grow the commodity.

Ogheh, while addressing journalists in Abuja on Monday, dismissed the criticisms of the policy, saying that the effort was in the best interest of the nation’s economy.

He said the energies being dissipated by critics in condemning the initiative could be better used to produce yam, a staple in most parts of the country.

The minister, who allayed the fears of some Nigerians who believed that the policy would lead to shortage of yam in the country, said there is currently there is currently a glut in yam production in the domestic market.

“I have seen attacks on the social media. There are questions all over as to why we are exporting yam when Nigerians are said to be hungry. With all due respect, Nigeria accounts for 61 per cent of the world output of yam. We have 60 varieties of yam in this country,” the minister explained

“In fact, 30 per cent of the yams we produce get rotten because we don’t have facilities to preserve them. Ghana is a famous country for exportation of the commodity, but most of the yam they export is from us. There has never been shortage of yam in the country. Prices might be high toward the end of the season, but new yam is already in the market,” he added.

Critics of the policy believe that investment in local processing of yams into finished products is of more economic benefit to the country than exporting the commodity.

But the minister dismissed this suggestion, arguing that export made more economic sense than processing.

“Analysts are saying that we are supposed to add more value to yam production in order to earn more money, fantastic view. But they forget to tell us how much a tuber of yam costs in the USA. Three kilogrammes cost 15 dollars, which is equivalent to about N5, 000,” he said.

“In London, a cartoon of yam, this contains three tubers, costs 30 pounds, bringing the average cost per tuber to 10 pounds. At that price, it is more sensible to export to earn more money for our economy. Economy is 90 per cent common sense,” Ogheh said.

According to him, foreign trade partners came to complain when Nigeria limited its food imports.

The minister commended the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) for setting guidelines for yam exporting, promising that the standards would be adhered to.

Ogbeh urged the commissioners of agriculture in states to keep on educating farmers to use the right yam seedlings to increase their output.

 

Ebonyi govt borrows N10bn to assist farmers, boost agricultural activities

By NewsDesk

The Ebonyi State Government has borrowed N10 billion from Federal Government to finance agricultural activities and to assist farmers in the state.

The State Governor, David Umah, told newsmen in Abakaliki, the state capital on Friday that the credit would be used to support farmers and domesticate rice production in the state, adding that the state government would also establish Mega Rice Cities in the various local government areas of the state to boost rice production.

“We have also borrowed some funds under CARTS from the Federal Government. We borrowed N2billion, we will be paying off in the next 3 months, of course we borrowed another N5 billion and another N3 billion.

“We want to domesticate rice production in Ebonyi State and we are going beyond individual production. We are now beginning to see how we can institute what we call rice mega cities in each local government area where by we have 5,000 hectares of land dedicated for rice production in each of our local government areas,” Umahi said.

He disclosed that four rice mills are currently in operation, adding that the state government had imported another three sets of rice mills which would install in the next three to four months.

The governor, who said that before the middle of next year the state would be able to have one rice mill in each local government area, added that the idea is to maintain the nutritious quality of the rice produced in the state with a view to making it compete internationally.

According to Umahi, the state is planning to cultivate 100,000 hectares of land to produce 400,000 tonnes of rice in the next two years.

He explained that government was already supporting farmers with inputs and subsidies and that buyers from neighbouring African countries were patronising the rice market in the state.