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Subsidy Removal Long Overdue – Presidency

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By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

Following reactions by Nigerians from different quarters over the hike in Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also called petrol, the Presidency has said that petroleum subsidy removal had long been foreseen by successive administrations as game changers in search of solutions to move forward with the nation’s development.

 

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu on Sunday stated that Blueprint upon blueprint, timeline upon timeline had come and gone but courage to take bold decisions was not there.

”Over the last few days, one claim acquiring a potent resonance with the online community, sections of the labour movement and the opposition is that the actions are ill-timed and ill-advised.

”There is nothing new in the fact that the country is today fighting multiple challenges along with COVID-19, including low earnings, near-collapse of the oil market, floods, threats of terrorism and banditry but the challenges notwithstanding, a good government must take decisions for the people’s good, ” the Presidency said.

According to the statement, As President, Muhammadu Buhari takes these difficult decisions, both popular and unpopular and as a leader because he is demonstrating the right courage to take such decisions as they become necessary in view of present circumstances.

The Presidency boasted that history would be kind to President Buhari because ”in addition to his amazing ability to command votes, he will be remembered as the President who made real contributions to economic and overall national development by eliminating the evils of corruption embedded in subsidies.”

Shehu said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) came to power in 2015 defeating an incumbent administration amidst very high expectations from President Muhammadu Buhari.

”Five years on, the administration has worked hard to meet many expectations, but still, there are certain tough decisions which had to be taken to put back the country on the path of sustainable development.

”To stop the mismanagement of taxpayer money, eliminate corruption associated with subsidies on petroleum products, power, fertilizer among others, the administration took the decision to implement long-delayed reforms, withdraw and allow the market to determine their prices, ” the statement added.

According to the government, ”in any democracy, the most important certificate in governance is acceptance by the people and, with the support of ordinary Nigerians, President Buhari has shown a rare determination to carry out the bold initiatives as these ones driven by nothing other than the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

In carrying out the reforms, the President needs the support and understanding of all citizens-inclusive of the opposition parties, the labour movement and civil society groups.

“In these challenging times, the President is pushing development goals not politics and history will judge him in favourable terms rather than his critics in the new media and the opposition.”

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Afreximbank Closes $282 million India-focused Club Deal

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced the successful completion of a first-of-its-kind India-focussed club deal for US$282.00 million.

Initiated for the exclusive participation of Indian lenders, and arranged by Bank of Africa UK PLC, the primary syndicated club deal saw participation from Indian lenders through their overseas branches and subsidiaries in the Dubai International Financial Centre in the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Mauritius.

The facility, which was backed by six participating banks and financial institutions, including five that joined as first-time lenders to Afreximbank, helping the Bank achieve its objective of diversifying its funding sources, carries a three-year tenor.

At a commemorative event held in Dubai, U.A.E., to mark the conclusion of the deal, Haytham ElMaayergi, Executive Vice President at Afreximbank, said that the conclusion of the initiative represented a major milestone for the Bank as it sought to fulfil the key objectives of its funding programme.

Highlighting the importance of investing in, and for, Africa, Mr. ElMaayergi said: “this facility will help Afreximbank to continue to play a major role in the development of intra-African trade and trade between Africa and the rest of the world, particularly with India. 

It is a testament to the rapid growth in Africa’s economic relationship with India and is evidence of Afreximbank’s growing ability to harness resources into Africa and to fund trade finance related investments that would have a positive impact on trade between Africa and India.”

Chandi Mwenebungu, Director and Group Treasurer of Afreximbank, reviewing the Bank’s vision for Africa, said that its funding objectives included achieving the diversification of its liability book by geography, investor type and tenor.

Also addressing guests at the event were Said Adren, CEO of Bank of Africa UK PLC, who thanked the lenders for their participation, and Zineb Tamtaoui, General Manager of Bank of Africa, Dubai Branch, who expressed appreciation for the opportunity to put together “a landmark deal that would be a stepping stone to many India-focused club deals going forward.”

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Geregu Power Earns N50.4bn From Electricity Sales, Capacity Charges 

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

Geregu Power Plc has generated N50.4bn on electricity sales and capacity charges to Nigerians in the first quarter of 2024.

The power company which is the first listed power company of the Nigerian Exchange Ltd disclosed the performance in its Q1, 2024 financial statement.

The company grew its Q1 revenue by 225 per cent from N14.

2bn in 2023 to N50.
4bn in 2023.

A breakdown reveals that Geregu Power sold energy worth N31bn and received N19bn as revenue from capacity charge.

Recall that the power company posted an annual revenue of N82.9bn in the full year of 2023 but it has covered half of the amount in Q1.

The revenue was above the company’s forecast for Q1 2024 when it projected its revenue to rise to N31.24bn.

Geregu Power recorded a profit before tax of N21.9bn up from the N5.3bn recorded in Q1 of last year, reflecting 307.8 per cent growth.

During the period underreview, the company saw its profit after tax rose by 307.3 per cent to N14.46bn from N3.54bn recorded in Q1 of last year. In the full year 2023, the company made N16.1bn net profit.

The net profit was above the company projection of N5.5bn. 

Geregu Power took an income tax charge of N7.43bn, up from the N1.8bn in Q1 2023. The tax charges were higher than the N2.7bn projected for Q1 2024.

The company also spent N21.5bn on the cost of sales involving gas supply and transportation, up from the N6.6bn spent on gas supply and transportation in Q1 2023.

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CBN Shakes Up Banking Sector: A Paradigm Shift Unveiled

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By Ademola Oyetunji 

In a surprising turn of events on Wednesday, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) dissolved the boards of three prominent commercial banks – Keystone, Polaris, and Union Bank. This move, although unanticipated, transpired despite the Central Bank’s recent endorsement of these banks’ financial soundness.

Governor Olayemi Cardoso, at his inaugural address during the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) annual dinner last year, had lauded Nigeria’s financial sector’s resilience in 2023.

Stress tests conducted on the banking industry indicated its strength under various economic scenarios. However, Cardoso highlighted the need for banks to reassess their responsible banking framework, a sentiment echoed by President Tinubu.

President Tinubu’s evident discontent with the Godwin Emefiele-led CBN triggered a comprehensive review of the financial system. A special investigator, Jim Obazee, was appointed to conduct a forensic investigation into Emefiele’s tenure, with damning revelations emerging. Recent developments suggest the initiation of a full-blown financial system reform.

The CBN’s dissolution announcement and the subsequent appointment of new executives for the affected banks, including Yetunde Oni, Mannir U. Ringim, Hassan Imam, Chioma A. Mang, Lawal M. Omokayode, and Chris Onyeka Ofikulu, might mark the beginning of implementing the investigation’s recommendations – a significant cleanup of the financial sector.

Allegations surfaced during the investigation, suggesting non-cooperation from some bank executives and Emefiele’s questionable acquisitions through proxies and cronies. Cardoso may have secured presidential approval for the CBN’s decisive action.

The CBN cited various infractions by the banks, including regulatory non-compliance, corporate governance failures, and activities threatening financial stability. Despite the challenges, the CBN assured the public of depositors’ fund safety and its commitment to upholding a safe, sound, and robust financial system.

The Special Investigator’s report revealed documents pointing to Emefiele’s involvement in Titan Trust Bank and Union Banks’ acquisitions with ill-gotten wealth. The CBN’s swift replacement of the ousted chief executives received widespread commendation, especially from high-net-worth stakeholders aiming to avert a crisis of confidence within the affected banks.

Adewale Aderounmu, an industrialist, applauded the CBN for implementing effective policies under Olayemi Cardoso’s leadership, despite detractors’ actions against the Naira. Ayomide Deepak, an Abuja-based stockbroker, welcomed the action but emphasized the need for caution in handling revelations from the investigation to prevent further economic challenges.

As the CBN wields its regulatory hammer on these banks, the hope is that other bank executives and investors will learn valuable lessons for the sake of the economy. The CBN’s action is perceived as a strategic move aimed at revitalizing the economy and financial system, not a mere vendetta.

*Ademola Oyetunji writes from Ibadan.

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