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5 socio-economic challenges Nigeria would face if Tinubu’s chaired ECOWAS invades Niger.

ECOWAS authorities have resolved to intervene militarily in the Niger coup crisis to restore democracy and reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum. The decision was made following unsuccessful diplomatic talks with the coup leaders during an emergency meeting in Abuja on August 10, 2023.

Niger’s allies, Mali and Burkina Faso, have declared that any ECOWAS military intervention would be seen as a declaration of war against them.

Should ECOWAS send troops to Niger, Nigeria could face five major challenges:

1. Refugee crisis: Nigeria’s porous border would likely lead to an influx of refugees and displaced persons from Niger, particularly in border states like Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe, and Borno.

2. Casualties: Multi-country conflicts tend to result in civilian deaths, as seen in Nigeria’s experience leading ECOMOG troops in Liberia in 1990.

3. Arms proliferation: Wars leave behind arms proliferation, contributing to future crises. Nigeria already struggles with arms smuggled through its borders, leading to increased banditry and insurgency.

4. Increase in terrorism: Heightened arms availability could escalate violent crimes, worsening Nigeria’s existing issues with terrorism and banditry.

5. Economic impact: ECOWAS sanctions against Niger have already affected local businesses in Nigerian border states, causing price increases for food and goods. If diplomacy fails, the economic strain could intensify further.

Nigeria’s Economic Growth Potential in Positive Trajectory as Non-Oil Sector Gains

This week, we explore the latest domestic output data which showed that Nigeria’s economy is on a growth trajectory for another quarter as the gross domestic product (GDP) grew 3.52% to N21.04 trillion in Q4’22, slightly weaker than the 3.98% delivered in the corresponding perio d of 2021 and higher by 1.27 percentage points from the 2.25% in the third quarter.

This brings the overall growth level down to 3.1% from the 3.4% delivered in 2021. This is according to the GDP report published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) .

Marking the ninth consecutive quarters of
positive growth, our expectation had been for a
modest 2.0% growth in Q4 full-year growth of 2.9%, but the outperformance relative to our forecast was mainly because of a robust
growth of 5.69% in the services sector, which
contributed 56.27% to the aggregate GDP.

Although the agriculture sector grew
by 2.05% in Q4’22, its performance was significantly fraught by severe incidences of flooding experienced across the country, accounting for lesser growth relative to the fourth quarter of 2021, which was 3.58%; then, the industry sector saw a retarded growth of 0.94%, contributing less to the total output as against the last quarter (-8.0%) and Q4’21 (-0.05%).

On the sectoral performance of the oil and non-oil sectors, it continues to be a major growth driver in line with broad expectations, as it delivered real growth of 4.44% in the quarter and was probably underpinned by an increase in consumer spending during the holiday season.

This growth was lower by 0.29% percentage points relative to the Q4’21 figures and 0.18% percentage points higher than the prior quarter’s growth.

This growth was spurred by the telecommunications (11.24%); trade (4.54%); crop production (2.41%); financial institutions (12.41%); food, beverage, and tobacco (4.94%); real estate (2.78%); and construction (3.80%) sectors.

In real terms, the non-oil sector contributed 95.66% to Nigeria’s GDP in the fourth quarter of 2022, higher than the share recorded in the fourth quarter of 2021 (94.81%) and higher than the third quarter of 2022, which delivered 94.34%. Moreover, on aggregate, 94.33% was contributed by the sector in 2022, higher than the 92.76% reported in 2021.

On the other hand, for the oil sector, growth in real terms shrank by -13.38% year on year in the final quarter of 2022 and signals a decrease of 5.33% points compared to the same period of2021,butrose9.29%pointsasagainst-22.67%inQ3’22.

Thisshowsamarginalbutsignificantimprovement as the nation’s oil output stood at an average of 1.34 million daily barrels, up 0.14 million barrels from 1.20 million barrels in Q3’22.

However, the figure is lower (0.16 mbpd) than the average daily oil production of 1.50 million barrels per day in the same quarter of 2021.
On a yearly basis, real growth stood at -19.22% as against the -8.30% recorded in 2021.

However, the oil sector contributed 4.34% to the total real GDP in Q4 2022, down from the figures recorded in the corresponding period of 2021 and the preceding quarter (Q3’22), where it contributed 5.19% and 5.66%, respectively.

The total annual contribution of oil to aggregate GDP in 2022 was 5.67%.

In 2022, growth momentum saw a knock to print below the 2021 overall average as weak macro fundamentals emanating from the effects of geopolitical (Russia-Ukraine) unrest, expanding inflation, other environmental factors such as floods, and intensified monetary policy tightening by the central bank took centre stage.

Amidst these drags, Nigeria needs to achieve GDP growth of over 6% to achieve more inclusive growth and move closer to its long-run GDP potential.

For Cowry Research, we forecast year 2023 growth of 3.74%, revised from our earlier projection of 2.9%, as base effects taper off.

2023: Nigeria’s top candidates’ targets naira devaluation

The uncertainty around who wins the forthcoming presidential vote in Nigeria is not essentially different from the one around whether any of the top three contenders have definite, elaborate plans to fix the country’s problematic foreign exchange system.

As their manifestos show, the plans of the All Progressive Congress (APC), the Labour Party (LP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for foreign exchange management are at best a muddle of promises with no clear roadmap to achieve them.

Africa’s biggest democracy will be choosing a new leader on 25 February. Last year, its currency ranked among the world’s worst-performing, outdoing only Ghana’s cedi and Sri Lanka’s rupee.

Naira’s black market rate, the basis of that verdict, had fallen by 37 per cent as of that date compared to only 4 per cent for the official rate.

The parallel market is the most accessible market in the country for those seeking forex, even though the government has labelled it “illegal”. It offers the most market-driven rate, meeting the dollar needs of several manufacturers and users unable to access the currency at the spot market.

The value of the naira is increasingly being eroded, as its official rate lost more than half its value against the dollar since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in 2015.

International investors held only 16 per cent of the shares listed on the Nigerian Exchange in 2022, down from 58 per cent in 2014, a signal that the dollar flow into the market is fast drying up.

“No investor’s going to want to buy into a market where you can’t sell stock and get your money out,” Steve Pollicino of U.S. brokerage Auerbach Grayson told Reuters.

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The news agency said Mr Pollicino believes overhauling the Nigerian foreign exchange market is the foremost worry of international investors. One big ramification of the crunch is the ordeal it creates for manufacturers wanting to import raw materials but can’t access the greenback at the I&E Forex Window.

The dollar exchanged for N461.67 at that market and, according to parallel market rates tracker @naira.rates, N746.71 on the street on 14 February, leaving a 61.7 per cent spread, a gulf that has been a key driver of inflation.

Whoever wins the next election will have exchange rate volatility to grapple with as much as a dollar crunch that is stoking the price levels of imported goods.

That is not to mention the urgency of courting back myriad foreign portfolio investors who have been deserting the stock market in droves since the dollar scarcity came to a head shortly after Covid-19 broke out.

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Bola Tinubu (APC)
APC’s presidential hopeful Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not definite on whether he will adopt a foreign exchange market where the forces of demand and supply drive the movement of exchange rate if voted into power.

APC Presidential aspirant Bola Tinubu at Chatham House (Photo Credit: Tinubu’s Facebook)
APC Presidential aspirant Bola Tinubu at Chatham House (Photo Credit: Tinubu’s Facebook)
Nevertheless, it is safe he will rather sustain the current model whereby the government controls the official forex market known as the I&E Forex Window or spot market.

“The exchange rate influences the costs of imports, competitiveness of exports, and net capital flows among other things. It cannot be ignored nor left to the vagaries of an unrestrained market,” Mr Tinubu’s manifesto says without stating the direction his government will take on this.

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Should the former Lagos State governor opt for a government-controlled currency market, the naira-to-dollar exchange rate of the official market will likely continue to be unreliable, failing to reflect the true picture of the dynamics of the market.

The APC admits in the manifesto that Nigeria’s multiple foreign exchange regime is ineffective and dysfunctional, and acknowledges the implications of that for arbitrage and currency speculation.

“To ensure that exchange rate policy harmonises with our goals of optimal growth and job creation driven by industrial, agricultural and infrastructural expansion, we will work with the Central Bank and the financial sector to carefully review and better optimise the exchange rate regime,” the document says.

No mention is made of the shape the planned collaboration with the central bank and the financial sector will take.

The manifesto says “Our history shows that the oil and gas sector is not the answer to our nation’s economic problems.” Yet it goes on to say that the same sector “must play the lead role in generating the foreign currency revenues needed to help fund the nation’s twin industrialisation and infrastructural drives.”

According to the document, Mr Tinubu plans to cut gas flares in order to boost oil and gas earnings from export to the EU as the Russia-Ukraine rages. He intends to reduce foreign debt and use it as a tool to “protect our exchange rate, guard against inflation and preserve foreign currency reserves.”

The manifesto says “Our administration will engage in extraordinary prudence in contracting debt in foreign currency. Our policy will be such that new foreign currency debt obligations will be linked to projects that generate cash flows from which the debt can be repaid.”

On Import Substitution, Mr Tinubu hopes to wean Nigeria off its dependence on imported goods by discouraging the importation of non-essential products and imposing luxury taxes, higher processing fees and higher tariffs.

He is looking to incentivise foreign investors that establish manufacturing plants in the country by way of rebates and tax credits.

“We shall also enact new policies to exploit the framework provided by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA) to further boost domestic manufacturing and production,” the manifesto says.

Peter Obi (Labour Party)
Unlike its APC rival, Peter Obi of the Labour Party is pro-liberalisation of the foreign exchange market and has stated his ambition to “dismantle the opaque multiple exchange rate regime which effectively subsidises a few privileged persons, whilst depriving government of badly needed revenues.”

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi
Great as that sounds, the former Anambra State government did not give the layout of how he will go about this in his manifesto.

“We will also seek a simplification of the exchange rate regime, whilst seeking to also boost the supply side, rather than continuing to concentrate exclusively on demand management,” the manifesto states.

There is no part of the document highlighting the specific actions Mr Obi will take to improve the dollar supply. The two broad and brief ideas mentioned above are the only foreign exchange plans mentioned by Mr Obi throughout the document.

On Import Substitution, Mr Obi came into the warm-up stage of the election, riding on the mantra of moving “Nigeria from consumption to production,” which is number two on his 7-point agenda. He hopes to achieve that by expanding the $440.8 billion economy through “agrarian revolution and export-oriented industrialisation.”

His manifesto says scaling up exports will be achieved by cultivating strong ties between Nigerian and overseas markets for its goods. It will also involve establishing structures including strategic trade and investment missions and in-country trade missions aimed at creating markets for made-in-Nigeria goods.

“We shall embrace political entrepreneurialism to directly lead missions to top Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and leading Global Value Chain headquarters, lobbying and granting them all the necessary incentives to expand their production and manufacturing value chains to our country to link us to the important income-growing and employment-generating global value chains,” the manifesto says.

The Labour Party promised to incentivise companies and industries that take clear action to switch from fossil fuels to clean energy “not only for local consumption but also for export.” Among its agenda is the need to cut steep trade costs resulting from high port, border and road logistics spending, which it recognised as a barrier to a competitive business environment.

“We will apply entrepreneurial governance to dismantle the impediments to free trade and ease of doing business,” the Labour Party said.

Mr Obi also expects to boost quality assurance in a bid to ensure the standards of Nigerian products position it to gain traction in the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“We will incentivize the mid-stream segment of the petroleum sector by facilitating gas processing plants and privately-owned small and medium scale boutique refineries, with a view to reducing importation of refined petroleum products, and eliminating the petrol subsidy regime, which has become a huge burden on the budget,” the manifesto says.

Atiku Abubakar (PDP)
Atiku Abubakar, who oversaw the privatisation of state assets as Nigeria’s vice president in this republic’s first eight years, is known as an advocate of liberalisation and the free market.

Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and PDP Presidential Candidate for 2023 general elections
Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and PDP Presidential Candidate for 2023 general elections
His manifesto notes that the PDP will give the market greater freedom in determining prices if voted into power.

“This way we shall eliminate the persistent price distortions occasioned by current interventionist exchange rate management policy. Government intervention, where absolutely necessary, will be done responsibly and judiciously,” the document says.

The manifesto further says “Monetary and fiscal policies shall ensure low inflation rate, stable exchange rate and interest rates that will be supportive of businesses’ quest for credit.” Yet, it is silent on the game plan that will accomplish this.

On Import Substitution, Atiku expects processed goods to constitute 25-40 per cent of total exports, hoping these to include processed agricultural goods, manufactures, gas products and refined petroleum.

The manifesto states that support will be given through the Nigerian Export Promotion Council and Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission.

The PDP candidate hopes to review the efficacy and accessibility of the non-oil export simulation facility and strengthen the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority in setting up special economic zones across the six geopolitical zones.

He also intends to review “import duty on raw materials that are available in the country and on imported machinery for local production.”

The manifesto says there is a plan to cut food imports as a share of total imports to 5-10 per cent from 20 per cent.

Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso
Rabiu Kwankwaso proposes to address the concerns around achieving a fixed exchange rate, independent monetary policy, and free movement of capital.

Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso
The proposed solutions include adopting a disciplined, managed float exchange rate regime with some level of capital controls.

The former governor of Kano State also suggested finding an exchange rate system that encourages exports, discourages imports, and reduces the need for violent adjustments to stabilize the Naira.

He also proposed that the CBN opt for inflation targeting to achieve single-digit inflation, manage monetary policy rates to achieve this, and focus on its core mandate of managing inflation and financial system stability.

Dangote-led End Malaria Council to help Nigeria save N687 billion in 2022 and N2 trillion by 2030.

President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Abuja inaugurated Nigeria End Malaria Council (NEMC), projecting that the successful implementation of the council’s agenda and savings from the estimated economic burden of the disease would save Nigeria about N687 billion in 2022 and N2 trillion by 2030.

The president told the 16-member council headed by the founder and president of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, that beyond improving the quality of life, health and well-being of Nigerians, the concerted strategy to tackle malaria had both public health as well as socio-economic benefits for Nigeria.

‘‘Our inauguration today will therefore ensure that malaria elimination remains a priority on our agenda, with strong political commitment from leaders at all levels.

‘‘Additionally, the End Malaria Council will provide a platform to advocate for more funding to protect and sustain progress made so far by our country, and put us on a pathway to ending malaria for good,’’ the president said.

Expressing concern that the age-long disease had remained a major public health challenge in Nigeria, the president cited the World Health Organisation (WHO) report of 2021, showing that Nigeria alone accounts for 27 per cent of all cases of malaria and 32 per cent of deaths globally.

‘‘Malaria infection can cause severe disease and complication in pregnant women and lead to high rates of miscarriage.

‘‘It is also responsible for a considerable proportion of deaths in infants and young children, with children under 5 years being the most vulnerable group affected. These are reasons we must not relent in fighting malaria.’’

On his choice of Mr Dangote to chair the council, President Buhari explained that it was in recognition of the track record and passion of Africa’s richest man in supporting initiatives on various health issues such as polio and primary health care system strengthening.

He expressed confidence that Dangote would bring his outstanding achievements to help the country achieve its goal of malaria elimination, adding that a group of eminent personalities, who have also made their mark across all walks of life, have been selected to work in the council.

He added that the membership of the council reflects government’s commitment to significantly reducing the malaria burden in Nigeria, to a level where it is no longer a public health issue.

‘‘I have been informed that the End Malaria Council (EMC) has already been established in other African countries, in line with the African Union Assembly Declaration for Establishment of EMCs in Africa.

‘‘EMCs have provided leadership, new funding and innovation to enable these countries stay on track to meet malaria burden reduction targets, and I am optimistic that the setting up of the Nigeria End Malaria Council will do the same for Nigeria.

‘‘I must add that with the additional advocacy and funding the council will bring to the malaria control drive, we can anticipate a reduction in malaria burden that ensures that our children, pregnant women, indeed, all Nigerians are shielded from the disease.

‘‘We must work together to reduce the unnecessary deaths attributable to malaria and ultimately improve the well-being of citizens. I implore the Council to ensure best practices and innovative strategies in achieving its mandate.’’

President Buhari used the occasion to thank the Chairman of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, the Executive Secretary of ALMA, RBM Partnership in Nigeria for their continuous support to the Federal Ministry of Health and the malaria programme, in particular.

He also acknowledged the contributions of the Global Fund, the United States Agency for International Development, the President’s Malaria Initiative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, UNICEF, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, other implementing partners, and the private sector.

In separate remarks, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, and the Minister of State for Health, Joseph Nkama, said since 2010, Nigeria has been recording a continuous decline in malaria from 42 per cent in 2010, to 27 per cent in 2015 to 23 per cent in 2018.

Quoting figures from the 2010 Nigeria Malaria Indicator Survey and the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, they attributed the decline to the thorough implementation of the National Malaria Strategic Plan (NMSP).

Both ministers, however, admitted that the funding gap has impacted the implementation of the malaria programmes in Nigeria, adding that the country needs N1.89 trillion to reduce malaria prevalence and mortality by 2025.

Mr Ekumankama said: ‘‘The biggest challenge confronting us, which prevents the elimination of malaria, to ensure a malaria-free nation in the shortest possible time is inadequate finances to fund the NMSP.

‘‘We are currently implementing NMSP of 2021 to 2025, with the intent to achieve a parasitic prevalence of less than 10 per cent and reduce mortality attributable to malaria to less than 50 deaths per 1000 live births by the year 2025. It will take about N1.89 trillion to implement this plan.

READ ALSO: Nigerien President honours Dangote with national award over health interventions
‘‘However, in the first year of its implementation we had an estimated deficit of over N150 billion and in 2022, we already have a deficit of over N170 billion.’’

In his acceptance speech, Mr Dangote thanked the president and all members of the council for entrusting him with the enormous responsibility, pledging to work hard to achieve the mandate.

‘‘I must confess that this resonates with my current role as the Nigerian Ambassador for Malaria, my role on the Global End Malaria Council and with the work that my Foundation is doing to mobilise the private sector to support malaria control in Nigeria and Africa at large,’’ he said.

The council members are: Shehu Ibrahim, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Vice President on Political and Economic Affairs; Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF); Yahaya Oloriegbe, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health; Abubakar Dahiru, Chairman, House Committee on AIDS, TB and Malaria; Mr Ehanire, Mr Ekumankama; Mahmuda Mamman; Permanent Secretary, Federal Minister of Health.

Others include Tony Elumelu, Chairman, Board of Directors, UBA; Folurunsho Alakija, CEO, Rose of Sharon Group; Herbert Wigwe, CEO, Access Bank; Femi Otedola, CEO Forte Oil; Lami Lau, President, National Council of Women Societies; John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Emeritus Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese; Rafiyat Sanni, National Amira, Federation of Muslim Women Nigeria (FOWAN) and Perpetua Uhomoibhi, NEMC Secretariat/National Coordinator, National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP).

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media & Publicity)

EXCLUSIVE: How Savannah Energy Deceived Investors to acquire ExxonMobil and Petronas’ Multibillion Dollar Assets – Stakeholders

The uproar generated by Savannah Energy Plc. planned acquisition of substantial assets of ExxonMobil and Petronas through the back door seems not to be abating yet.

According to industry sources, Savannah Energy had manipulated the handlers of the transaction at a time other Oil and Gas companies were also eyeing the deal.

The fallout of a deal that ought to have been responsibly managed by the company has become messier owing to the deliberate failure to disclose certain crucial developments to the market.

And worse still, the thorny issue has also unsettled stakeholders even as it has generated ripples in the media.

Stakeholders who are privy to the deal had expressed concern that Savannah Energy was not at the initial stage willing to disclose the hitch as required by market regulations.

This attitude, expectedly, irked opponents and industry analysts, who have continued to insist that the non-disclosure of the material information the company has kept to itself, is not only deliberate but grossly fraudulent.

Naija247news gathered that the government of Chad, through its state-owned oil company, Societé des Hydrocarbures du Tchad (SHT), had notified Petronas on January 18, of her decision to exercise her right of first refusal in the deal.

Incidentally, that was not to be as the gimmick, according to informed sources, was designed to favour Savannah Energy.

“So, SHT pretended to be in the process of acquiring control of the substantial shareholding in ExxonMobil and Petronas. Midway, it entered into discussion with Petronas concerning the adaptations to be made to the transfer agreement to reflect the substitution for Savannah Energy as the buyer,” one analyst, who refused his name in print, said.

A tweet sighted by Naija247News had called out the Energy Company insisting that an announcement indicating that “SHT has preempted Petronas transaction since January” should have been made.

”When is SAVE (Savannah Energy) updating the market on this material information?” the tweet inquired.

SHT was said to have initiated the process of taking the necessary steps to raise the financing for the operation. While this was going on, Savannah Energy had remained silent, in what industry analysts called a clearly unethical act, wilfully downplaying the potential impact the collapse of the deal might have on investors, who have made significant decisions based on the announcement made by Savannah Energy in December 2021.

Under article 12 of the association agreement, the members of the consortium had a right of first refusal for 30 days in the event of transfer by another member of its participation in the consortium, in order to carry out the concerned operation (which leads to the transfer of the stake concerned) in place of the initially planned buyer, under the same conditions as those agreed between the parties.

It would be recalled that after months of negotiations and site visits, the British firm and London Stock Exchange-listed company, announced the execution of share purchase agreements (SPAs) worth $626 million with ExxonMobil and Petronas to acquire their oil & gas assets in Cameroon and Chad in December 2021.

As a result of both acquisitions, Savannah Energy was to acquire a combined 75 percent controlling interest in the Doba Oil Project and 70 percent indirect controlling interest in the Chad-Cameroon oil export transportation system. The remaining interests would be reserved for the national oil companies of Chad and Cameroon.

The SHT Petroleum Chad Company will, also, according to the arrangement, hold the remaining 25 percent interest in the Doba oil project, while its affiliates will indirectly own the remaining stake in the transportation system. The Exxon transaction has a value of $360 million, while the deal with Petronas is worth approximately $266 million. However, both transactions are subject to shareholder approval.

Savannah Energy Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Andrew Knott, had said: “These assets have generated billions of dollars of critical tax revenues for their host countries and free cash flow to their owners since the onset of first oil production in 2003.

“Further, under our stewardship, we expect these assets in aggregate to generate positive free cash flow and fiscal revenues for Chad and Cameroon for a further 25+ years. For Savannah, these deals are expected to see our production levels and reserve base more than double.”

Soon after what analysts called the rigmarole, it was reported that the Africa‑focused British Company, was set to acquire ExxonMobil’s and Petronas’ entire upstream and midstream asset portfolios in Chad and Cameroon for a total of $626 million.

The company had reportedly signed share purchase agreements (SPA) with Exxon and Petronas (E&P) overseas ventures to acquire the assets. The move was to further expand Savannah Energy’s operations in Africa.

It had planned to fund the transactions through a combination of debt and equity/equity-linked financing.

Last year, the Doba Oil Project produced an average of 33,700 barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil. The Chad-Cameroon pipeline system transported a gross of 129,200bbl/d of oil in 2020. The deals in Chad and Cameroon, however, were aimed at further increasing Savannah Energy’s footprint in Africa.

Deal-making in the energy sector, according to Reuters, has gathered steam as oil and gas firms trim their portfolios to focus on more profitable assets and transition towards cleaner energy amid uncertainty over future demand for fossil fuels. Savannah, which currently operates only in Nigeria and Niger, said it intends to fund both transactions through a mixture of debt and equity.

The Exxon transaction is for $360 million and involves a 40 percent interest in the Doba Oil Project in southern Chad and about 40 percent indirect stake in the Chad-Cameroon export transportation system, Savannah said. The deal with Malaysia’s Petronas is worth $266 million, with a 35 percent stake buy in the Doba project and about 30 percent indirect holding in the Chad-Cameroon transportation network.

If completed on the currently proposed terms, the Projected Acquisition, sources say, would be classified as a reverse takeover transaction in accordance with the AIM Rule 14. Accordingly, the Company had requested that its ordinary shares be suspended from trading on AIM with immediate effect.

This, according to informed sources, will remain so pending publication of an AIM admission document setting out, inter alia, details of the Proposed Acquisition, or confirmation is provided that discussions around the Proposed Acquisition have been terminated.

Savannah Energy Plc. is an AIM market listed African-focused British independent energy company sustainably developing high-quality, high-potential energy projects in Nigeria and Niger, with a focus on delivering material long-term returns for stakeholders.

In Nigeria, the Company has controlling interests in the cash flow generative Uquo and Stubb Creek oil and gas fields, and the Accugas midstream business in South East Nigeria, which provides gas to over 10 percent of Nigeria’s available power generation capacity.

In Niger, it has interests in two large PSC areas located in the highly oil prolific Agadem Rift Basin of South East Niger, where the Company has made five oil discoveries and seismically identified a large exploration prospect inventory, consisting of 146 exploration targets to be considered for potential future drilling activity.

However, on June 15, in what industry analysts termed a “smart ugly move”, Savannah Energy Plc. announced the full year 2021 Annual Results. In the report, it posited the target completion of entry into Chad and Cameroon in Q3 2022 and further hydrocarbon acquisitions. The company said it would focus on the delivery of projects that matter in Africa, and was pleased to announce its 2021 Audited Accounts and Annual report.

The report specifically announced a proposed place to raise US$65.8 million of equity financing and secured up to US$432 million of debt financing for the proposed Chad and Cameroon Asset Acquisitions. The equity financing, according to the report, would be completed in January 2022.

While reviewing the “fantastic year for Savannah ”, Knott, had said: “We announced our potentially transformational acquisition of a large portfolio of upstream and midstream assets in Chad and Cameroon, which upon completion we now expect will more than double our corporate free cash flow.

“We established a Renewable Energy Division which, post period, has signed agreements for up to 750 MW of large scale greenfield solar and wind projects. We successfully renewed and amalgamated our Niger PSC areas, paving the way for the progression of our intended 35 MMstb R3 East development and a return to exploration activity in the licence areas.

“Our performance against key industry sustainability metrics relating to HSE performance, carbon intensity, senior management gender diversity, and local employee ratios remains industry-leading.”

He added: “Looking forward to the rest of 2022, I am confident in where we are as a business. We expect to deliver on our financial guidance. We expect to complete our entry to Chad and Cameroon during Q3 2022 and likely announce further hydrocarbon acquisitions.

“We expect to further grow our Renewable Energy Division, with several new large-scale Greenfield opportunities under review and negotiation. We expect to finalise the refinancing of our Nigerian debt and to announce the development and exploration plans for our assets in Niger.”

The question now is, if Savannah Energy’s attempt to close this deal to acquire the ExxonMobil and Petronas Assets in Cameroon and Chad has fallen through, why has Savannah Energy failed to announce the new situation to the market with the same gusto it announced the intended acquisitions?

Is Savannah Energy hiding anything? Or was it always a deliberate and calculated ploy to game the market?

Experts reveal How The COVID-19 Coronavirus Kill? What Happens When You Get Infected

Suffice it to say that the COVID-19 coronavirus is not a very good guest.

It has been the uninvited guest in over 287,239 humans to date based on reported cases. But the actual number is probably many more than that. It has resulted in a pandemic, which is a bad thing for a guest to do. And the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) has proven that it can kill, having claimed at least 11,921 lives as of today, according to a Johns Hopkins University website. But obviously the virus doesn’t have little teeth or carry teeny-weeny sticks of dynamite. So, what exactly does the virus do once it is in your body and how can it kill?

The SARS-CoV2 is a respiratory virus, meaning that it can enter and invade your respiratory system, the system from your nose to your lungs that allows you to breathe in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide. There are many other kinds of respiratory viruses such adenoviruses, rhinoviruses, respiratory syncytial viruses (RSV), influenza, and other coronaviruses because your respiratory tract can seem like a wet, warm Walmart for these viruses. Some of these viruses tend to stay in your upper respiratory tract while others may make it down to your lower respiratory tract. Spoiler alert: SARS-CoV2 can do both.

Of note, just because two different types of viruses are both considered respiratory viruses, doesn’t mean that they are the same in other ways. The many viruses that cause the common cold including four other types of coronaviruses (OC43, HKU1, NL63, and 229E) behave very differently from the SARS-CoV2. Similarly, the SARS-CoV2 is not the same as the flu virus. Repeat, they are not the same. If you were to ask whether the flu and COVID-19 were equivalent, the answer would be no times no. As Yoda would say, the same they are not SARS-CoV2 and the influenza virus.

SARS-CoV2 gets into your respiratory tract when you breathe in respiratory droplets that have the virus or smear the virus on your face with your grubby fingers or some other contaminated object. The infection tends to begin inside your nose, you know that place in which you may periodically put your finger. The virus looks a little like either a morning star, one of those spiked medieval weapons, or a spiky massage ball. Note that even though the three of these things look similar don’t ever confuse them and use one for the other. The moment someone want to massage you with a weapon or a coronavirus, leave the spa.

 

Here is a illustration of the virus that’s causing a pandemic:

And for your reference, here is a spiky massage ball, which is not causing a pandemic:

The spikes on the surface of the virus consist of protein. Here’s an example of where protein is not good for you. These protein spikes are the key to the viruses’ ability to invade the cells in your respiratory tract. They help the virus find and bind to ACE2, a protein on the surface of your cells that’s the virus’s ace in the hole, so to speak, to get into your cells. This dirt bag virus then tricks your cell into helping it get inside the cell. It uses an enzyme called furin that is present in your cells to break the protein spikes in half, allowing the spikes to then guide the virus into your cells. How’s that for some political backstabbing?

Once inside your cells, the politics don’t end. This jerk virus hijack your cells’ machinery to make more copies of itself. So not only is the virus in your cells’ uninvited, it is doing the nasty there and using your stuff to do so. What a gross creep.

After these pieces-of-bleep viruses make more and more of themselves, they may invade additional cells lining your respiratory tract and begin to cause damage. They may have been able to get into your cells and knock virus boots for a while before your immune system even recognizes that something was amiss. That’s because your immune system probably has never ever seen anything like SARS-CoV2 before and hasn’t yet had the chance to set up specialized sentries and weapons ready to recognize, catch, and eliminate these filthy viruses. When it comes to SARS-CoV2, your immune system is bit like you were probably like in high school, quite naive and easy to fool, no matter how much energy you had and how many weights you lifted.

Thus, your immune system is likely caught with its virtual pants down, something that may also have happened to you in high school. Your immune system then scrambles to deal with the emergency with no real clear plan specific for SARS-CoV2. It quickly assembles and deploys a bunch of general troops to the lining of your respiratory tract, making it into a battleground.

Your startled immune system may be enough to deal with this douchebag virus if everything remains in your upper respiratory tract, that is above your trachea or windpipe. In such cases, your symptoms will likely resemble those of an upper respiratory tract infection. That is, if you even have any symptoms at all. As I wrote previously for Forbes, a study showed that 17.9% of those infected ended up having no symptoms throughout their infections. Upper respiratory symptoms can include a fever, a sore throat, nasal congestion, or a dry cough. As the World Health Organization (WHO) reported, symptoms begin an average of five to six days after the virus initially infected you with a range of one to 14 days.

You may think, OK, so far, SARS-CoV2 doesn’t sound great but it also doesn’t sound terrible. True, for a large percentage of cases, SARS-CoV2 and its damage remains uptown, north of the trachea. But let’s get down with what can go down when the infection proceeds down your respiratory tract into your respiratory tree and lungs.

Shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, a deeper cough, and other difficulties breathing can be signs that these sons-of-viruses have made it to your lower respiratory tract. These symptoms can come from inflammation of your respiratory tree, otherwise known as your bronchial tree, the set of pipes that carry the air that you breath in and out of your lungs and allow you to sing Rolling in the Deep.

These sleazeball viruses may not stop at your bronchial tree. At the end of your respiratory tract are a bunch of balloon-like structures. No, not a collection of celebratory balloons to congratulate oxygen for reaching all the way down there. Rather, these are alveoli, which may sound like a pasta dish but instead are membranous structures that fill with the air that you inhale. Here is an illustration of some alveoli:

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As you can see in the picture, alveoli are also intertwined with a network of blood vessels, represented in red and blue. These blood vessels bring blood from the rest of your body that is low in oxygen and high in carbon dioxide, a waste product of metabolism. The alveoli serve as swap markets or little eBays where oxygen from the air that you breathed in is exchanged with the carbon dioxide in your blood. The carbon dioxide goes into the alveoli, where it may be exhaled up through your respiratory tract and out through your nose and mouth. The blood that is newly infused with more oxygen subsequently travels to the rest of your body to provide all of your cells with the oxygen that they need to do stuff like live and help you take selfies of yourself.

You can see how your lungs are so important and should be among your top five favorite organs. When your alveoli don’t work properly, your body can become starved of oxygen and unable to get rid of carbon dioxide. Things can quickly go downhill after that happens.

If the viruses and the resulting battle make it down to your lungs and alveoli, it can become a pneumonia. Pneumonia is when your alveoli become inflamed and get filled up with fluid, pus, and other types of gunk. Gunk is a technical term for cells and other stuff. This can happen in one or both of your lungs, assuming that you have no more than two. Developing a pneumonia is when the infection gets really serious. The word pneumonia should never be followed by no more than “I will just walk it off” or “rude, well that’s annoying.” If you suspect that you have a pneumonia, any kind of pneumonia, contact your doctor immediately.

Of course, unless you have an X-ray machine in your home, you can’t tell for sure if you have a pneumonia. Therefore, be aware of possible symptoms such as a high fever, chills that may be accompanied by shaking, coughing up mucus that’s greenish, yellow, or bloody, chest pain, shortness of breath, and other breathing difficulties. You may also feel tired, have a loss of appetite, and suffer sweating episodes. If you start turning blue or becoming confused, those are signs that you may not be getting enough oxygen through your lungs. Turning blue is never a good sign unless you are a member of Blue Man Group. If you do turn blue, go to the emergency room immediately as opposed to go to the emergency room casually. If you are a member of Blue Man Group, please say something.

When the infection has reached your lungs, your panicked immune system can behave like an adolescent. Sure, your immune system can continue to battle the virus, but it can also be too excitable and thus end up of making matters worse. There can be a lot of, shall we say, premature activation. Your immune system can end up quickly sending more and more troops to the area, cascades of different cells and chemicals, that end up firing all over the place in random directions. This may not even root out the invader and at the same time cause additional damage to the cells in your respiratory tract. As you probably learned in high school, telling someone this frenzied to calm down probably won’t work.

The other problem is that while your immune system is battling this scoundrel virus, other nasty microbes such as bacteria can sneak into your lungs and cause havoc as well. This is analogous to when a bouncer is occupied by an unruly guest and other people are able to sneak into the nightclub. These new invaders then can cause secondary infections that subsequently flourish quickly because your defenses are currently occupied. Such infections can end up being life threatening as well.

As the damage to your lungs continues, you may develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is when your lungs have suffered so much widespread injury that you start running out of functioning alveoli to do the gas exchange work. The acronym ARDS is easy to remember because it sounds a bit like “argh.” If the damage gets to the point that your lungs can no longer effectively exchange enough oxygen and carbon dioxide, you go into respiratory failure and need a ventilator to help you breathe. In such cases, a ventilator is not an optional thing like dressing on a salad. It is an emergency measure to keep you alive. That’s why doctors are so worried about ventilator shortages right now. When you are in respiratory failure, it’s not as if you can take a number and wait for a ventilator to become available. Being out of ventilators is not the same as being out of stock of Fifty Shades of Grey books or hoodies. People will die without enough ventilators.

Being on a ventilator is still not the worst that can happen. Your immune system, you know that naive adolescent that’s been prematurely randomly firing, can go even more haywire. Real trouble occurs when your immune system begins to send chemicals and cells to not only your lungs but all over your body. The destruction then extends beyond your respiratory tract. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) describes sepsis as “the body’s extreme response to an infection. It is a life-threatening medical emergency.” Your blood pressure starts to drop, your organs starts to fail. This is DEFCON 1 for your body and possibly a point of no return.

Most people with COVID-19 don’t go down this path. According to the Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), approximately 80% of those with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 end up having mild-to-moderate disease. Mild disease tend to last about two weeks.

However, based on this report, a not insignificant 13.8% of those with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 have severe disease. It can take three to six weeks to recover from severe disease, if you even do recover. Deaths, unfortunately, continue to occur.

So what are the chances of death if you have COVID-19? A CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published on March 18 presented data on the 4,226 COVID-19 cases in the U.S. that had been reported to CDC as of March 16. Of these cases, 2,449 of these patients had a known age: 6% were 85 years or older, 25% were between 65 and 84 years old, 18% between 55 and 64, 18% between 45 and 54, 29% between 20 and 44, and 5% between 0 and 19.

As you can see, the cases have spanned the age groups of the adult population. However, the case fatality rate, which is the percentage of cases who ended up dying, was substantially higher for those 85 years and older with 10% to 27% of them not surviving. This obviously sounds very high, but keep in mind that these were cases that were diagnosed and reported to the CDC. Without more widespread testing, it is still unclear how many cases of COVID-19 had already occurred in the U.S. as of March 16. The case fatality rate for those between ages 65 and 84 was 3% to 11%, lower but still quite significant. The case fatality rate dropped to 1% to 3% for those between 55 and 64 years of age and below 1% for those between 20 and 54 years of age. No one 19 years old and below passed away.

So far, case fatality rates have continued to vary somewhat widely. In a press briefing on March 3, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said that “Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died.” A study that’s currently under review at the journal Nature Research analyzed publicly available data on laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections in mainland China and came up with a 1.4% probability of dying from the infection after developing symptoms. Therefore, more data and studies are necessary to resolve these discrepancies in reported case fatality rates.

Regardless, all of the estimates so far remain far above the case fatality rates for seasonal influenza, which tends to be below 0.1%. This new coronavirus may have some similarities to the flu virus in that it is a respiratory virus and can kill you. But it is not the flu. Second verse same as the first, SARS-CoV2 am not the flu. The flu SARS-CoV2 is not. It is indeed something completely new and very different. And that’s the problem.

Nigeria’s MPC may retain interest rate at 13.5% as Inflation soars on Closure Border, Excess Crude Dip

Policy rate: 13.5%
Inflation rate: 11.6% (October)
Excess crude account stood at $324.54 million as of November 20

Nigeria’s central bank is likely keep its rate on hold for a fourth meeting even as inflation jumped to a 17-month high.

That’s as policy makers look for ways to jump-start an economy projected to grow just 2% this year. Governor Godwin Emefiele has said the bank won’t consider cutting rates before inflation slows to the 9% ceiling of the target band.

“The bank is focusing more on growth than inflation and currency at the moment,” said Wahab Mustapha, an analyst with Cordros Securities.

Naija247news.com earlier reported that Annual inflation was 11.61% in October, up from 11.24% in September, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday — the highest rate since May 2018. Consumer inflation had dropped to it lowest in almost four years in August.

A separate food price index showed inflation at 14.09% in October, compared with 13.51% a month earlier.

“This rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of meat, oils and fats, bread and cereals, potatoes, ham and other tubers, fish and vegetables,” the statistics office said in its report. “The rise in food inflation does suggest that border closures may have played a part in temporarily pressuring prices higher,” said Razia Khan, chief economist for Africa and the Middle East at Standard Chartered.

Shoppers at a market in the capital, Abuja, told Reuters the price of many food items, particularly rice, had risen in the last few weeks.

“Food items are very expensive in the market. When you go to a store they will tell you that is because the border is closed,” said housewife Naomi Nguher, who said she was given this reason for high rice prices at four different shops.

Sherifat Ajala, a rice wholesaler in the commercial capital Lagos, said Nigeria’s bad roads were delaying the transportation of the grain, further preventing the supply from meeting high demand.

“Trucks will spend almost two or three weeks on the road before they bring the rice,” he said.

Last week the West African country, along with neighbouring Benin and Niger, agreed to set up a joint border patrol force to tackle smuggling between the nations after a meeting between their foreign ministers.

The central bank is due to set its benchmark interest rate next Tuesday. The bank, which has targeted single-digit inflation, held its main interest rate at 13.5% at its last meeting, in September.

Earlier in the month a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and a member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), have expressed fears that the persistent fall of Nigeria’s external reserves in recent times may induce exchange rate crisis and trigger capital outflows from the country.

Joseph Nnanna and Robert Asogwa, deputy governor in charge of economic policy and an MPC member respectively, expressed fears in their personal statements at the last meeting of the MPC seen by Naija247news

Nigeria’s excess crude account
Nigeria’s excess crude account stood at $324.54 million as of November 20, the accountant general said on Thursday.
Reviewing the external reserves movement, Nnanna said external reserves had trended downwards in recent months, declining from US$43.971 billion as at July 31, 2019 to US$ 41.79 billion as at September 16, 2019 or by US$ 2.181 billion or 4.9 percent.

Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has since shown that the reserves shed $2,243,157,059 in October, moving from $44,305,099,104 on the last working day of September to $42,061,942,045 as at October 30, 2018, the largest fall since 2018.

The reserves depreciation reflects weakening oil prices and CBN interventions in the foreign exchange market to ensure exchange rate and price stability.

“Although this stock of reserves could finance over 9 months of 36 imports of goods and services at end July 2019, there is need to watch this level considering that the reserves stock at the end of June 2019 could finance over 12 months imports.

“More importantly, the level of reserves has implications for capital inflows and outflows. A weakened net capital inflows position, due to weakening oil prices and external reserves position is helpful to exchange rate stability or the easing of monetary policy stance.

“This thus suggests the need to avoid monetary policy responses that could worsen the capital flows position and, hence external reserves and exchange rate stability,” Nnanna submitted at the last meeting of the MPC.

Asogwa, in his submission, explained that some considerable pressures still exist as the conditions of external reserves and current account balance seemed to have worsened in between the MPC meetings.

The oil savings account, which holds dollar reserves from sales of crude above the assumed benchmark price, contained $1.92 billion as of June 2018.

“CBN staff report shows that gross external reserves as at end of August 2019 declined by 4.7 percent when compared to the levels at end July and there are expectations of additional declines by the fourth quarter of 2019.

“There are, however, fears that this declining trend in external reserves may affect exchange rate stability in the near future,” he said.

The country’s foreign reserves, which saw a remarkable surge in 2018, following improved oil prices, and hitting $47.8 billion in June, has begun to take a downward turn due to shocks from the US market.

“Given the increase in inflation, we now expect that policymakers will leave their key rate on hold,” John Ashbourne, senior emerging markets economist at London-based Capital Economics, said in a note on Monday.

In 2020, Nigeria Stock Exchange to Launch Equity Index Futures To Boost Investors Confidence

By Mahmoud Habboush and Emele Onu

Other products may follow, Lagos exchange CEO Onyema says

Lobbying government to exempt securities trade from tax

The Nigerian Stock Exchange, Africa’s second-largest bourse, plans to introduce trading in financial derivatives next year as it seeks to deepen the market.

“We will launch with equity index futures and then grow the list from there,” Chief Executive Officer Oscar Onyema said in an interview in Abu Dhabi Tuesday. The exchange plans to introduce futures and options to enable investors to hedge and manage risks, he said at the Africa Investment Summit organized by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Nigeria is seeking to encourage trading in the wake of a 14% slide in its benchmark index this year, the fourth-worst performer among 94 global equity gauges tracked by Bloomberg. While efforts to introduce derivatives in the past were hampered by the lack of a central counter-party clearing house, one has now been set up and the Lagos bourse is seeking a license for it from regulators, Onyema said.

Onyema has long been floating plans to introduce derivatives trading since his appointment in 2011, but has continually delayed its launch.

The Lagos stock exchange is also in talks with regulators to increase the share of pension fund investment into equities, to raise the current allocation to stocks at 4.95%, Onyema said. There are already signs that stocks are starting to “rally a little bit” thanks to an inflow of pension-fund money after the Central Bank of Nigeria tightened restrictions on which investors could trade its high-yielding, short-term, fixed-income debt securities.

The bourse is also lobbying President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to offer tax breaks to companies and exempt securities transactions from value-added tax to boost investment, according to Onyema. Nigeria, which vies with South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy is seeking to expand tax revenue amid a decline in income from crude oil, which contributes the bulk of the nation

Bloomberg

Pension Administration Investors Stash Funds in FGN Bonds as Slow Down on Nigeria Equities in Q3 2019 worsens

The National Pension Commission (NPC) recently released its report on pension fund assets for the
third quarter of 2019 showing that the total value of pension assets rose quarter on quarter (q-o-q)
by 2.76% to N9.58 trillion in September 2019 from N9.33 trillion in June 2019.

According to the report, most of the pension fund assets were
invested in FGN securities as its share of the total assets stood at 71.43% (or N6.84 trillion) in
September 2019, from a 69.55% it printed in June 2019.

Also, the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) piled up money in Local Money Market
Securities (LMMS), although its share of the total assets was flattish q-o-q at 11.21% (or N1.07 trillion) in September.

Total invested fund in Corporate Debt Securities as a percentage of total pension fund assets stood at 6.49% (or N0.62 trillion) in September 2019 from 5.42% in June 2019.

However, funds invested in Real Estate Properties as a fraction of the total pension fund assets dropped to 2.42% (or N0.23 trillion) from 2.68% (or N0.25 billion) in the period under review.

Similarly, we saw Cash and Other Assets which constitute 0.28% (or N26.47 billion) of the total pension fund assets in September 2019 declined from 2.30% (or N214.21 billion) in June 2019.

Further breakdown of the N6.84 trillion FGN Securities revealed that investment in FGN Bonds, by the PFAs gulped N4.48 trillion in September 2019, rising from a N4.44 trillion it recorded in June 2019.

Investment in Treasury Bills rose to N2.26 trillion in September 2019, from N1.94 trillion in June 2019; however, investments in Sukuk and Green Bonds were relatively low as their respective shares of allocated pension assets stood at N80.53 billion and N13.38 billion in the quarter under review.

Also, the breakdown of investment in LMMS showed that more pension fund assets were invested in Banks (which include Open Market Operations, OMO, and DMBs fixed deposits) than in commercial papers.

Funds invested in Banks, constituting 88.79% of investment in LMMS, rose to N0.95 trillion in September 2019 from N0.94 trillion in June 2019 while investment in commercial papers, constituting 11.21% of investment in LMMS, increased to N0.12 trillion from N0.11 trillion.

Meanwhile, pension fund assets investment in the domestic equities market moderated to N0.49 trillion in September 2019 from N0.54 trillion in June 2019; thus, reducing the weight of total pension funds in local equities market to 5.13% from 5.76%.

Nevertheless, the equities market received some of “patronage” from “RSA FUND 11” as its share (N0.33 trillion) of the total pension fund investment in equities stood at 61.11% in September 2019.

Nigeria’s Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index 65.00 62.50 60.00 57.50 55.00 Source: NBS, Cowry Research

Non-Manufacturing Composite PMI
Manufacturing Composite PMI
The increased investment by PFAs in FGN Securities, especially FGN Bonds, was purposely to take advantage of the high yield in the bonds market as at September 2019.

With the benefit of hind sight, it is apparent that pension money managers took the right decision then given the crash in fixed income yields.

Meanwhile, treasury bills across different tenor buckets that matured this week were mostly refinanced at single-digit rates by CBN.

As there will be no T-bills auction in December 2019, we expect the current demand for T-bills to spill over to the bonds market; hence a reduction in bond yields is anticipated for most maturities.

More so, with the recent restriction of OMO transactions to only deposit money banks and foreign portfolio investors as well as the soon retirement of the current N950 billion worth of pension Investment in OMO bills, we expect bonds yields and rates to collapse going forward.

Hence, with the anticipated reduction in yields, we expect returns on pensioners’ funds to moderate in Q4 2019.

Thus, we opine that it is time the PFAs took advantage of the low stock prices and invest more in equities, given the high dividend returns in some selected stocks and the potential capital appreciation they also offer as stock prices have dropped way below their net book values.

FG Urges BOI, Financial Institutions to Increase Funding Emerging Sectors

July 12, 2024.

Azonuchechi Chukwu.

The Federal Government has urged the Bank of Industry (BOI) and other Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) in Nigeria, to provide adequate funding for emerging sectors of the economy.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, made the call during the 4th Annual General Assembly of the Association of Nigerian Development Finance Institutions (ANDFI) on Thursday in Abuja.

The theme of the event was “Financing Emerging Sectors for Growth: The Role of Development Finance Institutions.”

Uzoka-Anite, who was represented by the Chairman of BOI Shareholders Committee, Mohammed Bala, said that the emerging sectors were key to unlocking the country’s economic growth potential.

She identified some of the emerging sectors as renewable energy, biotechnology, information technology, sustainable agriculture, and culture among others.

According to her, emerging sectors represent the future of the global economy but lacked sufficient finding to create the needed impact in Nigeria.

“These sectors, if well-funded, are poised to generate sufficient economic value and address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

“These include climate change, infrastructure, food security, and health, which President Bola Tinubu-led administration is confronting.

“We are aware that these sectors often face unique challenges such as high initial investment costs, long development timelines, and the inherent risks associated with pioneering new technologies and business models.

“This is why traditional financial institutions are often reluctant to invest in these sectors due to passive risks and uncertain returns.”

Uzoka-Anite said that the World Bank has placed Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit at 30 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which falls short of the bank’s international benchmark of 70 per cent.

The minister added that the bank had projected that Nigeria must invest three trillion dollars to reduce its infrastructure deficit.

This, according to her, is attainable, if the DFIs in Nigeria could have confidence in the economy enough to inject the necessary funds.

She acknowledged the institution’s role in fostering an enabling environment for industries and the economy to grow.

She urges stakeholders, particularly government, private sector, and development partners at the sub-national level, to collaborate closely to harness the opportunities presented by emerging sectors.

“Together we can build a more prosperous, innovative, and resilient economy that will be the envy of other countries.

“This is because a well-developed financial sector is crucial for attaining sustainable and balanced growth, as well as ease of doing business,” she said.

Earlier, BOI Managing Director, Dr Olasupo Olusi, also noted that DFIs significantly ensured sustainable socio-economic development globally.

Olusi urged ANDFI members to collaborate by combining their expertise, resources, and network to unlock transformative projects.

“The government of President Tinubu has embarked on a renewed agenda that set a blueprint for driving Nigeria towards a trillion-dollar economy.

“Cooperation between the federal and subnational governments, as well as collaboration with the private sector is critical to this objective,” Olusi said.

In his keynote address, delivered virtually, Prof Kevin Urama, Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank, equally described DFIs as critical to the continent’s development.

According to him, 10 out of the 20 fastest-growing economies in the world are from Africa.

“This underscored the need for DFIs to provide adequate funding to emerging sectors of the economy.

“The era of cheap money is over, and the time for domestic and regional finance institutions to play a bigger role is now.

“Nigeria needs to invest in renewables, agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure and energy.

“ANDFI needs to look at each of these sectors and investing in energy as a priority is a good way to go; investing in agriculture is vital; and manufacturing and industrialisation are also key areas of focus,” Urama said.

NAN reports that the event was attended by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Temitola Johnson and the BOI Chief Economist Dr Rislanudeen Muhammad, among others. (www.naija247news.com).

Tax Payers on FIRS Database Increases by 20%

July 12, 2024.

Azonuchechi Chukwu.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says the number of new taxpayers in Nigeria has increased by 170,000 and tax compliance also improved by 20 per cent over a year.

Mr Femi Olarinde, Special Adviser to the FIRS Executive Chairman, Dr Zacch Adedeji, made this known during a dinner/media parley on Thursday in Lagos.

The total number of taxpayers in the country as at 2021 was 41 million. Olarinde attributed these successes to the leadership of Dr Adedeji.

He noted that the increase in the number of taxpayers was due to the emergence of more businesses, companies and industries in the country.

According to Olarinde, the new FIRS leadership has also simplified tax processes and payments nationwide, making them more convenient and reducing the cost of compliance and administration.

He said, “We are aware that parting with money is not easy for anybody, so we must make it as easy as possible for people to part with it. Before now, we used to have the Tax Duty and Value Added Offices, among others.

“Taxpayers had to visit different offices to fulfil their tax obligations. Presently, there is no need to go to our offices; with the click of a button, one can complete all tax payment affairs.”

Regarding figures, Olarinde said that FIRS generated N12.3 trillion in revenue in 2023, exceeding the government’s target of N11.5 trillion by 107 per cent.

He also said that for 2024, the government set a target of N19.4 trillion for FIRS. However, he acknowledged the target as a herculean task but said it was achievable.

“As of the first quarter of this year, ending March 31, we have already collected 81 per cent of what is expected for the quarter, despite the first quarter being an off-peak period for tax payment.

“Specifically, in the first quarter of 2024, FIRS collected N3.94 trillion, which is N1.42 trillion or 56 per cent higher than the N2.52 trillion generated in the first quarter of the previous year.

“June is normally the peak period for tax collection, and collation of figures for the second quarter is ongoing,” Olarinde noted.

According to Olarinde, FIRS resolved 3,148 complaints in the first quarter of the year, reducing the number of complaints by 18 per cent.

He further stated that the key strategic drivers of the revenue service focus on people, technology, and processes.

Oderinde stressed that the rationale for the FIRS restructuring was to be effective and cohesive, while synchronising all its services into a simple process. “We are revolutionising the tax office into a one-stop shop to reduce the cost of administration and compliance.

“We have improved customer satisfaction by over 70 per cent by being customer-centric, offering personalised services and enhancing tax education.

“FIRS is now data-driven, which is key to maintaining good tax records, transparency and accountability,” he added. He explained that the FIRS remained committed to fair tax administration through responsive and accessible services to optimise revenue for national development.

According to him, the principles of taxation are equity, fairness and ensuring all taxpayers are treated equally and have access to the same services. The special adviser said that the vision of FIRS was to become the world’s most efficient and trusted revenue service.

Olarinde also highlighted the launch of the National Single Window initiative, which aims to spur economic growth and provide business enterprises with effortless access to the global market.

He said that the initiative facilitates fast and easy operations at the nation’s ports while harmonising and improving government revenue.

The FIRS official noted that it was expected to enhance the tax compliance of international shipping companies lifting crude oil in Nigeria.

Other FIRS officials at the event included Mr Dare Adekanmbi, Special Adviser on Media to the FIRS Chairman; Mr Sikiru Akinola, Technical Assistant on Media to the FIRS Chairman; and Ms Dapo Awolowo, Head of Media Support Staff of FIRS. (www.naija247news.com).

HIV: FG tasks committee to scale-up paediatric care

July 12, 2024.

Azonuchechi Chukwu.

The Federal Government has tasked the committee on Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) and Paediatric AIDS Acceleration Plan to scale-up interventions to eliminate HIV transmission in Nigeria.

Dr Tunji Alausa, Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, while inaugurating the committee in Abuja, expressed concern that Nigeria contributes 25 per cent global burden of HIV transmission between mother-to-children.

He added that current PMTCT and pediatric HIV coverage remained critically low at less than 35 per cent .

This, he said, was far below the 95 per cent target.

He said: “I will work closely with the committee to review implementation and track data regularly.

“We will also ensure that we reverse the negative narrative of our contribution to the global burden of mother-to-children child transmission of HIV.

“This will ensure that no child is born HIV positive and that those who are positive receive quality care.

“We will also unlock value chains by collaborating with those willing to commence domestic production of HIV commodities, ensuring health security for our children.”

Earlier, Temitope Ilori, Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), noted the country’s incidence prevalence, which necessitated the inauguration of the committee

“Our epidemiological estimates say 140,000 children under 14 are living with HIV as of 2023, with 22,000 new infections and 15,000 AIDS-related deaths in children.

“Current PMTCT and pediatric HIV coverage remain alarmingly low at less than 33 per cent far short of the 95 per cent target, ” she said.

Ilori, explained that the committee will provide oversight to the PMTCT and Paediatric HIV programme implementation to ending HIV and AIDS among our children.

Also, Olu Folake Abdlrasaq, Chairperson of the Nigeria Governors Spouses’ Forum and wife of Kwara State Governor, commended the Federal government’s efforts and emphasized the role of sub-national initiatives.

She revealed plans to enroll women living with HIV in the state’s health insurance program, expanding on her earlier initiative that included sickle cell patients.

Funmi Adesanya, Country Coordinator, United States Government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), disclosed that the US has invested 8.3 billion dollars over the past 21 years to eliminate HIV as a public health threat by 2030 in Nigeria.

“We commend the leadership of the Government of Nigeria for your vision and for convening us to address this urgent issue because it is an emergency.

“No child in Nigeria should be born with HIV and the U.S. government is committed to our partnership to ensure that this is a reality,” she said.

Leo Zekeng, the Country Director and Representative of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Nigeria, stated that funding the efforts against HIV/AIDS is not a challenge, as resources were available through 2026.

Zekeng, assured the support of UN agencies in Nigeria to the initiative while urging other stakeholders to recommit to the cause and fully support the initiative.

Oyebanji Fulani, Chairman, Commissioners of Health Forum, while stressing on the need for resources, assured that governments at the state level would do their part to ensure the success of the initiative.

The committee are expected to focus on early testing; optimise treatment and care for infants, children, and adolescents living with HIV.

Also, they are expected to close treatment gaps for pregnant and breastfeeding women; and address social and structural barriers that hinder access to services is also a priority. (www.naija247news.com).

FG Tasks Health Administrators on Service Delivery

Participants at a 3-Day workshop for Health Service Administrators of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.

July 12, 2024.

Azonuchechi Chukwu.

The Federal Government has tasked health service Administrators on genuine service delivery through dedication and selflessness.

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health and Social services, Mrs Daju Kachollom, gave the charge at the 3-Day workshop for Health Service Administrators of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.

The workshop with the theme, “The Hospital of the Future” was organised by the Institute of Health Service Administrators of Nigeria (IHSAN).

Kachollom explained that, government founded the institute with the aim of regulating health service administration and ensure that standards are maintained in the various health service institutions.

She said the workshop was a welcome development, as it would chat a new path for the development of health administration in the country.

According to her, health administration is a complex challenge that involves addressing various systemic issues that requires commitment and dedication from all practitioners.

“I implore you to continue to provide excellent services, quality administrative knowledge to all members and increase the power to harness innovation and improve meaningful change in health services for all.

“As healthcare administrators, it is important that you embrace policies to enhance healthcare practice and dministration in Nigeria for optimal performance which is our main goal.

“The Government is concerned with ensuring responsible, inclusive, participatory and presentive decision making at all levels consistence in making decisions aimed at establishing public institutions,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Director of University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada, Prof. Bissallah Ekele, said the workshop would serve as a catalyst to reposition the health sector for the hospital of the future.

Ekele, who was represented by the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), Dr Bob Ukonu, asked the members to be well equipped, focused and dedicated in discharging their duties for the development of the health sector.

Ekele called on record keepers in the hospital setting across the country to be diligent, and enhance accurate record keeping and other personnel cost in running health institutions.

Similartly, the Chairman, Local Organising Committee and Director of Administration, UATH, Mrs Modupe Adebanjo, maintained that the workshop would groom seasoned hospital administrators to recover health care delivery system.

Adebanjo stressed that a modern hospital should provide comfortable aesthetically pleasing environment. (www.naija247news.com).

Naira appreciates by 0.47% at the official market

July 12, 2024.

Azonuchechi Chukwu.

The Naira halted its fall against the Dollar in the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM) on Thursday, July 11.

The value of the Nigerian currency improved by 0.47 per cent or N7.33 to close at N1,554.65/$1, in contrast to the preceding session’s N1,561.98/$1.

This happened as there was an improvement in supply with a turnover of $348.82 million yesterday, higher than the $236.70 million recorded at midweek by 47.4 per cent or $112.12 million, according to data from the FMDQ Securities Exchange.

But in the black market, the Nigerian currency depreciated against the American currency yesterday by N10 to settle at N1,560/$1 compared with midweek’s closing value of N1,550/$1.

The Naira gained N36.11 against the British Pound Sterling during the session to finish at N1,951.83/£1 versus Wednesday’s closing price of N1,987.94/£1 and against the Euro, it appreciated by N31.43 to close at N1,645.39/€1 versus N1,676.82/€1.(www.naija247news.com).

Nigerian Stock Market Extends Lose, All Share Index depreciates by 0.33%

July 12, 2024.

Azonuchechi Chukwu.

The Nigerian stock market extended its losing streak on Thursday by 0.33 per cent due to losses in some banking stocks and others.

The downward trend made it the sixth consecutive session, resulting in a loss of N188 billion for investors.

Bearish sentiment in stocks such as Seplat, Access Corporation, Fidelity Bank Transnational Corporation, Africa Prudential, Oando, and Dangote Sugar contributed to the market’s decline.

As a result, the market capitalisation, which started at N56.456 trillion, dropped by N188 billion or 0.33 per cent to close at N56.268 trillion.

Similarly, the All-Share index fell by 0.33 per cent or 333 points to settle at 99,468.90, compared to the previous day’s close of 99,802.08.

The Year-To-Date (YTD) return decreased to 33.03 per cent.

Analysis of market activities indicated a decrease in trade turnover by 53.99 per cent compared to the previous session.

Despite the decline, market breadth closed positive with 21 gainers and 18 losers on the Exchange floor.

Linkage Assurance led the gainers table by 9.80 per cent to close at N1.12, Daar Communications followed by 9.62 per cent to close at 75k per share.

Vitafoam Nigeria gained 7.61 per cent to close at N21.20, Livestock Feed Plc rose by 7.32 per cent to close at N2.20 and Mecure advanced by 4.49 per cent to close at N10 per share.

Conversely, Ikeja Hotel led the losers’ table by 9.29 per cent to close at N6.35, Honeywell Flour trailed by 8.41 per cent to close at N3.16 per share.

Seplat Energy Plc lost 8.30 per cent to close at N3,480, Champion went down by 7.55 per cent to close at N3.06 and Sunu Assurances declined by 4.62 per cent to close at N1.24 per share.

A total of 269.73 million shares valued at N5.45 billion were exchanged in 7,126 deals, as against 935.15 million shares valued at N11.84 billion in 8,160 deals which were posted in the previous session.

Fidelity led the activity table in volume with 46.78 million shares worth N482.46 million, followed by Linkage Assurance with 32.12 million shares valued at N35.97 million.

Access Corporation transacted 23.23 million shares worth N445.71 million, Transcorp sold 22.14 million shares worth N266.06 million and AIICO Insurance traded 15.63 million shares worth N17.25 million.(www.naija247news.com).

Kenya’s President Ruto Fires Cabinet Amid Violent Protests Over Planned Taxes

Decision follows violent protests over tax plans

• Ruto pledges to consult for a broad-based government
• Promises new measures to address corruption
• Activists welcome Ruto’s decision

NAIROBI, July 11 (Reuters) – Kenyan President William Ruto dismissed his entire cabinet, except for the foreign minister, in response to nationwide protests, marking the most significant crisis of his two-year presidency.

Youth-led protests against proposed tax hikes began peacefully but escalated into violence, resulting in at least 39 deaths in clashes with police last month. Demonstrators briefly stormed parliament, prompting Ruto to abandon the tax plans.

“I will immediately engage in extensive consultations across different sectors and political formations and other Kenyans, both in public and private, with the aim of setting up a broad-based government,” Ruto announced in a televised address, adding that he would unveil additional measures later. The attorney general was also dismissed, but the deputy president’s office remained unaffected.

Veteran anti-corruption activist John Githongo told Reuters that the cabinet changes were what Kenyans had been demanding. “Let us see what happens now if the new ministers deal with big issues around corruption and just the arrogance and excess of his administration and the fact that a lot of Kenyans died during the demonstrations,” he said. “Hopefully this should temporarily calm things.”

Ruto has faced pressure from lenders, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to reduce deficits, while the population struggles with the rising cost of living. Last week, he proposed a mix of spending cuts and additional borrowing to fill the nearly $2.7 billion budget gap caused by the tax hike rollback. Analysts warn that this rollback may cause Kenya to miss IMF targets, despite the government not having any imminent debts.

Ojango Omondi, a community activist from the Social Justice Centres Working Group in Nairobi, viewed the cabinet dismissals as a “move towards justice,” but emphasized the importance of appointing accountable and law-abiding replacements. “It’s one thing to dismiss, the second is to ensure that the people that will be chosen in the cabinet are accountable to the constitution and the rule of law,” Omondi said.

USAID and Nigeria Sign MoU for Power Sector Reforms and Market Transparency

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Federal Ministry of Power signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Wednesday, committing Nigeria to electricity sector reforms, market transparency, liquidity, and expanding access to affordable power.

The MoU was signed by USAID/Nigeria Mission Director Melissa Jones and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Power Mahmuda Mamman. It supports the implementation of a ₦115.2 billion US government grant-funded technical assistance program aimed at advancing power sector development and reforms in Nigeria. This was announced in a statement issued by the power ministry in Abuja.

With over 85 million Nigerians lacking access to grid power and many experiencing unreliable electricity supply, Nigerian families and businesses often rely on costly, emission-intensive petrol and diesel generators. These long-standing power sector challenges hinder industrial growth, economic competitiveness, rural development, and the performance of the health and education sectors, ultimately affecting Nigeria’s overall economic growth and development.

Jones reaffirmed the US government’s commitment to advancing electrification in Nigeria, stating, “Today’s goal is to strengthen collaboration between USAID and the Federal Government of Nigeria and to provide a framework for our partnerships with other key actors, including state and local governments, electricity generation and distribution sectors, and the off-grid sector. It is laudable and timely.”

The signing ceremony was also attended by the US government’s Power Africa Coordinator, Richard Nelson, during his first official visit to Nigeria. Nelson remarked, “Nigeria is at the core of Power Africa’s strategy. I look forward to elevating our partnership to advance Nigeria’s progress towards our shared goal of ensuring access to reliable, sustainable, and affordable power for all.”

Minister of Power Adebayo Adelabu expressed gratitude for USAID’s continued support, emphasizing the partnership’s transformative potential. “This partnership with USAID is a significant milestone in the journey towards achieving a sustainable and reliable electricity supply for all Nigerians. Together, we will tackle the longstanding challenges in the power sector, ensuring transparency, enhancing market liquidity, and accelerating our transition to clean energy solutions,” he stated.

The statement from the power ministry highlighted USAID’s efforts to mitigate power sector challenges through the Power Africa Initiative, a US government-led partnership that leverages public and private sector resources to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Through this initiative, over 33 million Nigerians have gained access to electricity, about $4.5 billion has been mobilized for on-grid and off-grid power projects in Nigeria, and over 200 private companies in the off-grid sector have received assistance.

“This initiative will strengthen policy frameworks, enhance regulatory capacities, and encourage private sector participation, ultimately driving the nation towards its clean energy and net zero carbon emissions targets. The ministry is committed to ensuring these interventions deliver tangible benefits to all Nigerians, promoting economic growth and sustainable development,” the statement concluded.

Nigeria Eyes Sustainable Crude Oil Supply for Local Refineries as Dangote Refinery Boosts US Crude Imports

A vessel carrying crude oil discharges it via the SPM (Single-point mooring) at Dangote refinery facility at ibeju Lekki, Lagos Nigeria on Saturday, 9 December 2023

By Nigerian News Agency

The Federal Government of Nigeria and crude oil producers have pledged to ensure a steady supply of crude oil to local refineries at market-determined prices. This commitment aims to enable optimal business operations for oil producers while ensuring that refineries have adequate feedstock.

The Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has directed oil refiners to provide monthly price quotes on crude supply to facilitate this process. This directive comes as the $20 billion Dangote Petroleum Refinery reportedly ramps up crude imports from the United States, according to Bloomberg.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the NUPRC explained that oil producers, represented by the Oil Producers Trade Section of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, agreed to a mutually beneficial framework at a recent meeting. This framework aims to prevent local refineries from being constrained by high crude prices.

“The meeting, led by Commission Chief Executive Gbenga Komolafe, reviewed the Framework for Seamless Operationalisation of Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligation Template. This is part of our efforts to implement key sections of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, particularly regarding pricing and crude supply to domestic refineries,” the NUPRC stated.

Komolafe emphasized President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to providing a level playing field for both producers and refiners. He stressed the importance of a pricing model that does not disadvantage domestic refineries and instructed producers and refiners to submit monthly price quotes for effective monitoring.

“The convergence of the Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligation with national energy security necessitates transparent regulatory processes. We aim to ensure that crude pricing does not hinder domestic refining capacity,” Komolafe added.

He further highlighted that the NUPRC supports the willing buyer/willing seller provision and is committed to preventing cost under-recovery in the upstream sector. “We will not allow crude supply profiteering to negatively impact our domestic refining capacity,” he declared.

Dangote Raises Concerns

Devakumar Edwin, Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited, recently accused International Oil Companies (IOCs) of attempting to undermine the new Dangote Petroleum Refinery by hiking local crude prices above market rates. This, he said, has forced the refinery to import crude from the United States, increasing production costs.

“The IOCs seem intent on ensuring that our refinery fails by demanding exorbitant premiums or claiming that crude is unavailable. At times, we have paid $6 above the market price, compelling us to reduce output and import crude from the US,” Edwin stated.

He added that the IOCs’ actions appear designed to maintain Nigeria as an exporter of crude oil and an importer of refined products, thereby creating wealth for their home countries while keeping Nigeria dependent on imported fuel.

NUPRC’s Commitment

In response, the NUPRC emphasized the importance of appropriate pricing to support the willing buyer/willing seller model, referencing the Fiscal Oil Price guidelines published by the commission in accordance with the PIA.

“NUPRC is dedicated to attracting investments to enhance upstream development and optimize hydrocarbon resources, ensuring sustainable domestic energy supply in the midstream and downstream sectors,” the commission stated.

Crude Importation

Bloomberg reported that Nigeria’s Dangote mega-refinery is increasing its importation of crude oil from the United States. The Lagos-based refinery has purchased over 16 million barrels of West Texas Intermediate crude oil this year, with the proportion of US crude expected to rise further in the coming months.

Andersen Global Expands Valuation Services to Nigeria and South Africa

By Nigerian News Agency

San Francisco — Andersen Global has broadened its valuation capabilities in Africa by partnering with two new firms: Nelson Thorpe Alonge in Nigeria and Valeo Capital in South Africa. These partnerships mark Andersen’s first foray into valuation services on the African continent, complementing its existing services in North America, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia.

Nelson Thorpe Alonge provides comprehensive asset valuation services, including land and buildings, plant and equipment, marine, oil and gas, aerospace assets, property investment, property agency, sales and acquisition, property and facilities management, and property development advisory. The firm, led by senior partner Victor Alonge, serves a diverse clientele, including corporations, international agencies, diplomatic entities, governments, and high net worth individuals.

“Client success and satisfaction are at the center of our business strategy,” said Victor Alonge. “Our collaboration with Andersen Global is a milestone for our firm and demonstrates our utmost commitment to our clients as we expand our reach to deliver seamless, comprehensive valuation solutions globally.”

Valeo Capital, co-founded by managing partners Riaan van Heerden and David Tosi, is a boutique advisory firm offering corporate finance and advisory services such as mergers and acquisitions, BEE ownership structuring, company valuation, due diligence, and capital raisings.

“We are proud of the resourcefulness, reliability, and professional insight we provide to clients and want to continue to expand our offerings to clients locally and globally,” Riaan van Heerden said. “Our collaboration with Andersen Global further strengthens our team’s commitment to best-in-class service and maintains our competitive edge in the region.”

Mark L. Vorsatz, Global Chairman and CEO of Andersen, commented, “Nelson Thorpe Alonge and Valeo Capital have consistently demonstrated their commitment to stewardship and client service, differentiating them as leaders in the market. Both Nigeria and South Africa continue to be important markets, and the firms’ expertise is key to our global expansion strategy to meet the evolving valuation demands of clients both regionally and abroad.”

Andersen Global is an international association of legally separate, independent member firms comprising tax, legal, and valuation professionals around the world. Established in 2013 by U.S. member firm Andersen Tax LLC, Andersen Global now has more than 17,000 professionals worldwide and a presence in over 475 locations through its member firms and collaborating firms.

Justice Ogbonnaya of FCT, accused of withholding judgment in an unlawful sale of hospital suit

A judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Justice K. N Ogbonnaya, has been accused of withholding judgment in a motion challenging the unlawful sale of the multi-billion-naira Referral Hospitals Limited, Abuja, by a commercial bank without the knowledge of the owner of the health institution.

PRNigeria gathered that Justice Ogbonnaya, sitting at Kubwa division of the court, heard a motion seeking reversal of the purported sale of the hospitals by Guaranty Trust Bank to a private company, Riok Nigeria Limited, since December 2023, has refused to deliver a ruling in the motion.

In a protest letter to the Chief Judge (CJ) of the FCT High Court, Hon Justice Hussein Baba Yusuf, the owners of the hospitals expressed their deep concern and frustration with the silence of Justice Ogbonnaya since December 1, 2023, when she heard the motion and reserved ruling.

In the protest letter, a Director of the hospitals, Mohammed Zahradeen Baba-Kusa, craved the Chief Judge’s indulgence to intervene by compelling Justice Ogbonnaya to deliver her ruling in the alleged fraudulent sale of the hospitals for parties to know their respective fates.

The motion marked M/14135/2023 in suit FCT/HC/CV/135/2022 was said to be between Riok Nigeria Limited Versus Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Inspector General of Police and Referral Hospitals Limited.

It was filed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Solomon Umoh SAN, on November 10, 2023 on behalf of the hospital owners but heard since December 1, 2023 by Justice Ogbonnaya after which the Judge reserved ruling till a date to be communicated to parties.

The hospital owners, however lamented that ever since then, nothing has been heard from Justice Ogbonnaya while efforts to get the ruling delivered have been unfruitful.

A letter seeking delivery of the ruling dated April 4, 2023 was received in the registry of Justice Ogbonnaya on April 5, 2024 without any response.

The protest letter to the Chief Judge dated May 2, 2024 read in part “Reliance Referral hospital limited registered under the Company and Allied Matters Act vide motion number
M/14135/2023 applied to Honourable Justice K. N Ogbonnaya of Court 16 sitting in Kubwa.

“The motion prays the Honourable Court to set aside its judgment delivered on August 4, 2022 in suit number FCT/HC/CV/135/2022 between Riok Nigeria Limited Versus Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and one other on the grounds of lack of fair hearing, fraud, deceit, suppression and concealment of facts by the plaintiff/ Claimant which led Court to enter judgment in the suit.

“The motion was argued on 1st day of December 2023 and My Lord reserved ruling and informed counsel to both parties that a date would be communicated to them for the ruling.

“Since the 1st day of December 2023 till date, no date has been communicated to the parties or their counsel for the ruling.

“The applicant, after waiting for too long for the ruling to be delivered, wrote to the Honourable Court on April 4, 2024 drawing the attention of my Lord which was received and acknowledged by the registry on April 5, 2023 requesting the court to deliver its ruling so that parties will know their fate.

“Since the 1st day of December 2023 to date being a period of over five months, no date has been communicated to the parties or their counsel for the ruling.

“My noble Lord, we cannot continue to wait for the court’s ruling in perpetuity as we are adversely affected by the said decision of the court.

“My Lord, we humbly draw your attention to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which gives and mandates all courts in Nigeria, including this court, the maximum of three months within which to deliver judgment and not even ruling.

“In view of the above, we humbly write and request that the ruling in the above-mentioned motion be delivered timeously as it was long overdue so that parties will know their fate,” it concluded.

NiMet forecasts 3-day thunderstorms, rain from Friday

July 11, 2024.

Azonuchechi Chukwu.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted thunderstorms and rains from Friday to Sunday across the country.

NiMet’s weather outlook released on Thursday in Abuja envisaged morning thunderstorms on Friday over parts of Kano State and Kaduna State.

It anticipated thunderstorms over parts of Bauchi State, Gombe State, Zamfara, Sokoto State, Kaduna State, Adamawa and

Taraba later in the day.

“In the North Central region, morning thunderstorms and rains are expected over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kogi, Benue, Niger and Nasarawa State.

” While later in the day, thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi and Kwara.

“Morning rains are anticipated over parts of Oyo State, Ogun, Osun, Edo, Ondo State, Lagos State, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta, while intermittent rains are anticipated over the entire Southern region later in the day,” it said.

According to NiMet, morning thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Kebbi, Kaduna State and Zamfara on Sunday while afternoon and evening thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Gombe State, Kaduna State and Bauchi State.

The agency forecast thunderstorm and rains over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Nasarawa State and Niger during the morning hours.

NiMet predicted thunderstorms and rains over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Plateau, Nasarawa State and Benue later in the day.

The agency envisaged morning rains over parts of Ondo State, Ogun, Edo and Lagos State.

It predicted intermittent rains over parts of Osun, Oyo State, Ogun, Ondo State, Lagos State, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River later in the day.

According to NiMet, morning thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Jigawa, Kebbi, Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe State and Bauchi State later in the day on Sunday.

The agency anticipated thunderstorms over parts of Katsina State, Zamfara, Sokoto State and Kebbi.

“In the North Central region, rains are expected over parts of the Federal

Capital Territory, Nasarawa State, Plateau and Niger during the morning hours.

“Partly cloudy conditions are also expected over the region during the afternoon/evening hours.

“Morning rains are anticipated over parts of Edo and Lagos State, while in the afternoon/evening hours, intermittent rains are anticipated over parts of Ondo State, Ekiti and Osun” it said.

The agency urged the public to take adequate precaution as strong winds may precede the rains in areas where thunderstorms are likely to occur.

NiMet advised Airline operators to get updated weather reports and forecasts from NiMet for effective planning in their operations.(www.naija247news.com).

NATO Summit Focuses on Ukraine Support and Russian Threat Amid Calls for Biden to Withdraw Candidacy

WASHINGTON, July 11 (Reuters) – NATO leaders will conclude their Washington summit on Thursday, emphasizing support for Ukraine and addressing the growing threat posed by Russia to Europe. This comes as U.S. President Joe Biden faces increasing calls from members of his Democratic party to abandon his re-election bid.

Before the summit session dedicated to Ukraine, the 32 NATO countries and EU leaders will meet with partners from the Indo-Pacific Four—Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. Discussions are expected to focus on the perceived threats posed by China and Russia to both regions.

Biden, 81, is scheduled to hold a rare solo news conference in the afternoon, where reporters are likely to question his candidacy in the upcoming November 5 presidential election. Despite his intention to highlight his diplomatic achievements, recent events have shifted the narrative. Biden’s uneven performance in a June 27 debate against Trump and his low public approval ratings have sparked renewed concerns about his mental fitness. Nine Democratic members of Congress and one Democratic senator have called for him to step aside.

Over 70% of Nigerians Refused to Pay Bribes- NBS

July 11, 2024.

Azonuchechi Chukwu.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says 70 per cent of Nigerians refused to pay bribes in 2023 on at least one occasion.

This is according to the NBS Corruption in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends Report released in Abuja on Thursday.

The report said the bribery refusal rate was found to be highest in the North-West at 76 per cent, although the refusal rate recorded in all the zones was above 60 per cent.

It said in 2023, fewer citizens reported suffering negative consequences after refusing bribe requests at 38 per cent compared with the 49 per cent recorded in 2019.

“This suggests that Nigerians feel increasingly empowered to confront corrupt officials without fear of repercussions.”

The report said in 2023, 21 per cent of all bribe refusers indicated that their main reason for refusing a bribe request was because they had other options of getting what they wanted.

It showed that 42 per cent of bribe -refusers did so because it was the right, moral thing to do while 23 per cent refused because they could not afford the requested gift or payment.

“This data shows that normative concerns as well as cost of living pressures play an important role in explaining why Nigerians refuse to pay bribes.”

The report revealed that corruption ranked fourth among the most significant problems affecting the country in 2023 at 10.9 per cent.

“Corruption came after the cost of living at 22.6 per cent, insecurity and unemployment at 19 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively.

“This suggests relatively stable and high levels of concerns about corruption over time and compared to other concerns such as education or housing.”

The report said Nigerians’ confidence in the government’s anti-corruption effort had been declining over time and across regions.

It said in 2019, more than half of all citizens thought that the government was effective in fighting corruption; however in 2023, the share declined to less than a third of all citizens.

“The downward trend in the citizens’ confidence is observable across the entire country, with all six zones recording reductions of more than 10 percentage points between 2019 and 2023.”

The report said in 2023, more than half of all bribes paid to public officials were requested directly by those officials at 52 per cent, while indirect requests accounted for 23 per cent.

“This was followed by facilitate procedure at nine per cent, sign of appreciation at eight per cent and third party request at five per cent.”

It revealed that more than 95 per cent of all bribes paid in 2023 were paid in monetary form (cash or money transfer), a slightly larger share than what was recorded in 2019.

“Others are food and drink at eight per cent, animals at seven per cent exchange for other services at four per cent.”

The report said that roughly N721 billion was paid in cash bribes to public officials in Nigeria in 2023, corresponding to 0.35 per cent of the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria.

It said in 2023, out of all citizens who paid a bribe, 8.6 per cent reported their experience to an official institution capable of investigating or otherwise following up and acting on that report.

“This represents a marked increase in the bribery reporting rate since 2019 when it stood at 3.6 per cent.

“The increase is primarily driven by developments in the Northern zones, where the bribery reporting rate increased markedly from 4.7 per cent in 2019 to 13.4 per cent in 2023.

“In the Southern zones, the bribery reporting rate instead decreased moderately from 2.5 per cent in 2019 to 1.7 per cent in 2023.”

The report said more formal procedures were initiated due to reporting at 45 per cent and fewer cases had no follow-up at 17 per cent.

The News Agency reports that this is the third round of the corruption survey with the first two rounds held in 2016 and 2019, respectively, across the 36 states and the FCT.

The corruption survey also known as the National Survey on Quality and Integrity of Public Services in Nigeria was implemented by NBS in partnership with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). (www.naija247news.com).

European Leaders Concerned About Potential Shift in U.S. Support for Ukraine and NATO Post-Election

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, U.S. President Joe Biden, Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Romania's President Klaus Werner Iohannis participate in a family photo at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania July 11, 2023. Susan Walsh/Pool via REUTERS

European leaders are increasingly worried that the upcoming U.S. presidential election in November could significantly alter Washington’s support for Ukraine and NATO. Republican candidate Donald Trump, 78, has raised questions about U.S. support for allies and the level of aid provided to Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will hold a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after a two-hour session with NATO leaders. He is also scheduled to meet with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Seeking to strengthen ties with U.S. lawmakers from both parties, Zelenskiy met with congressional leaders involved in defense, spending, diplomacy, and national security. He also extended an invitation to Mike Johnson, the Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, to visit Kyiv.

In a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the United States announced on Wednesday that it would start deploying longer-range missiles in Germany in 2026, marking the most potent U.S. weapons to be stationed on the European continent since the Cold War.

A NATO declaration stated that allies would provide at least 40 billion euros ($43 billion) in military aid to Ukraine within the next year, though it stopped short of the multi-year commitment Stoltenberg had sought. NATO members pledged continued support for Ukraine “on its irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership.”

Greeting South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Thursday, Stoltenberg highlighted the interconnected nature of European and Indo-Pacific security, citing Russia’s closer cooperation with North Korea. NATO is concerned about North Korea supplying munitions to Russia for the war in Ukraine and the possibility of Russia reciprocating with support for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Yoon emphasized that the closer military and economic ties between Moscow and Pyongyang underscored the inseparability of European and Indo-Pacific security. He stated that Thursday’s meeting would further strengthen ties between the Indo-Pacific and NATO states.

The NATO summit declaration also criticized China, labeling it a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war effort in Ukraine and noting that Beijing continues to pose systemic challenges to Euro-Atlantic security. NATO and the four Indo-Pacific countries are set to launch new joint projects at the summit, focusing on Ukraine, artificial intelligence, disinformation, and cybersecurity.

President Joe Biden, who will host the session on Ukraine, asserted that NATO is “stronger than it’s ever been” and expressed confidence that Ukraine can and will stop Russian leader Putin “with our full, collective support.” Biden, facing increasing domestic challenges, met on Wednesday with new British Prime Minister Keir Starmer, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Finland’s President Alexander Stubb.

While Biden has been rallying allies and Democratic voters, several high-ranking European officials met with a top foreign policy adviser to Trump during the summit. Trump reiterated on Wednesday that he would not pull the U.S. out of NATO but insisted that members should pay more, saying, “I just want them to pay their bills. We’re protecting Europe. They take advantage of us very badly.” Earlier this year, Trump had pressed congressional Republicans to stall military aid for Ukraine before later reversing course.

Zelenskiy urged U.S. political leaders on Tuesday not to wait for the election outcome before acting decisively to help Ukraine and called for fewer restrictions on the use of U.S. weaponry.

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