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21 Insurance Companies Surpass 50% New Capital Threshold [LEADERSHIP]

Six weeks to the December 31 deadline given to insurance and reinsurance companies to attain 50 per cent new capital threshold, only 21 insurance firms out of 58 have so far met the mandate, LEADERSHIP can exclusively reveal.

Of the said number, it was learnt that seven of them have fully recapitalised, while the remaining 14 companies have attained the 50 per cent capitalisation as required by the industry regulator, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM).

NAICOM had earlier ordered insurance firms with composite license to upgrade their capital base from N5 billion to N18 billion.

Life insurance firms were required to increase their minimum capital requirement from N2billion to N8billion, amounting to 400 per cent increase in their capitalisation.

General insurance companies are to raise their capital base to N10billion from N3billion, even as Reinsurance Firms will now need N20billion capital base to operate Reinsurance business in the country.

Similarly, NAICOM had earlier extended the deadline for insurance and reinsurance companies to meet its new capital requirements to September 30, 2021 from December 31, 2020.

To this end, the regulatory body mandated that 50 per cent of the minimum paid-up capital for insurance and 60 per cent for reinsurance must be met by 31 December 2020.

Although the names of those involved are still scanty as of the time of writing this report, there are indications that FBN Insurance Limited, AXA Mansard Insurance Plc, among others, have fully recapitalised.

LEADERSHIP investigations also revealed that Leadway Assurance Company Limited, AIICO Insurance, LASACO Assurance, Consolidated Hallmark Insurance, Sunu Assurance Nigeria Plc, Unitrust Insurance Company Limited, Allianz Nigeria Insurance, NEM Insurance, Universal Insurance, among others, have met and some surpassed the 50 per cent capital regulatory threshold as at the weekend.

Insider sources revealed that 14 other insurers are on the verge of meeting the 50 per cent new capital threshold and could meet up in the next three weeks or so, while the remaining 23 underwriters are still lagging behind, as they continue to struggle to convince new investors to boost their capitalisation to the new benchmark in the ongoing exercise.

Most of the underwriting firms in this category, it was learnt, were in a precarious financial position, with some of them owing huge unpaid claims, unpaid salaries, among other huge liabilities, hence, may struggle to fully recapitalised by September, 2021.

Reacting to the development at the Insurance Industry Professional Forum in Abeokuta, Ogun State recently, the commissioner for Insurance, Mr Sunday Thomas, charged underwriting firms to speed up the process of recapitalisation as the regulatory body has been magnanimous to extend the previous deadline to give more time to operators to source funding for recapitalisation.

He said the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on insurance business was the main reason for granting the earlier extension, hoping the operators make judicious use of the opportunity.

Earlier, some managers of some insurance companies were appealing to NAICOM to waive the first phase of its segmented recapitalisation for the insurance and reinsurance companies scheduled to end by December 31, 2020.

Managers of insurance firms who spoke during the meeting of insurance companies’ CEOs with the commissioner for Insurance at the industry’s professional forum urged the regulatory body to consider their challenges by amending some of the requirements in the recapitalisation exercise in the sector.

They said the support of the regulator would assist to build strong underwriting companies and boost investors’ confidence in the sector.

Some of the executives who attended the meeting disclosed that they made a request for the recapitalisation exercise process to be concluded in December 2021, while the interim milestone assessment scheduled for December be stepped down.

The operators acknowledged the huge impact of COVID-19 on the financial services sector and the national economy at large, coupled with the situation that was worsened by losses from the nationwide #EndSARS protests.

“The waiver will give the insurance and reinsurance companies more time to settle back to business and pursue their full recapitalisation programme in order to meet the commission’s set objectives by 31  December, 2021,” an anonymous operator said.

Speaking at a conference in Lagos recently, the chairman, Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, said insurance is a business of pools, hence no serious need for industry-induced recapitalisation, stating that players should be allowed to recapitalise individually according to the risk they want to absorb.

Moreover, he said the ongoing recapitalisation exercise is also creating opportunity for foreign investors to take over local underwriting firms for peanuts, especially with the volatility in the forex market which favours dollar at the expense of the Nigerian naira.

“Most of these investors are coming in with dollars and will buy these companies in Naira term while using the current share price, which is already a disadvantage to local underwriters,” he stated.

Stressing that the coronavirus pandemic has affected negatively the ability of insurance companies to raise funds to recapitalise ahead of time, he called for more time to allow the industry outgrow the impact of the pandemic by giving more time to them to recapitalise.

Financial assets such as debt and equity instruments as well as money market and equity funds, he said, are returning low yield and that as a result of the prevailing unfavourable investment climate, capital preservation yields are not as profitable as before.

With inflation at 13.9 per cent, he said one loses money in real terms, even as the fixed income may guarantee cash flows, but profitability is negative.

He stated: “How then do we guarantee adequate return on investment in the Insurance Industry? Can the new regulatory-induced recapitalisation guarantee it? If the worth of a company is a function of its performance, will there be a positive correlation between recapilisation, growth and profitability?

“We can achieve adequate return on investment and capital adequacy ratio through support and patronage of the Nigerian Insurance industry by government at all levels and reduction of sharp practices to its barest minimum. We can accumulate retain earnings and shareholders’ funds on a sustainable basis through good corporate governance and adaptive leaders that recognize and respond to insurance needs and relevant adjacencies.”

 

Constitutional Role For Royal Fathers Sparks National Debate [LEADERSHIP]

Like a phoenix, the issue of whether or not traditional rulers should be given a role in government in the ongoing constitution amendment at the National Assembly got a fresh life of its own, with lawyers and regional socio-cultural organisations engaging in a national debate on the matter.

For several years, there had been agitations over constitutional role for traditional rulers in the country.

As the National Assembly legislate on the nation’s laws in the ongoing constitution amendment, Nigerians, especially interest groups, are divided in their views on giving the royal fathers constitutional powers.

Lawyers, socio-cultural groups and prominent Nigerians who spoke exclusively with LEADERSHIP expressed divergent views on the inclusion of constitutional powers for the traditional institution in the nation’s constitution.

While some are of the view that the royal fathers should continue to play their roles as fathers of the nation, others contend strongly that giving them some level of constitutional responsibilities will further strengthen the country’s value system as a nation.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ade Oyebanji, said it is time for the country to reform its traditional institutions.

He noted that while the traditional institutions play a very vital role in nation-building, they have been relegated to the background.

The learned silk said, “I think that it is time for us to reform our traditional institutions. In the past, our royal fathers were well respected by the people because they play a very important role in the society but since colonial era, the institution has diminished, their powers reduced and they are now at the mercy of politicians who appoint and remove them at their own pleasure.

“During the military era, our traditional rulers were used against the people because there was no constitutional backing for their position. They knew that if they fail to support government in power, they could be removed from office. But in a situation where we have a constitutional provision that gives them legitimacy and they are not at the mercy of politicians, they will be more effective and they will be able to criticise government programmes and policies without any fear.

“Whether we like it or not, the traditional rulers are even closer to the people than the local government officials because they live with them. So, I will say that we must find a role for them to play in governance”.

Also, a legal practitioner, Barr Tony Amadi, stressed that traditional rulers occupy very important position in the country and should be given a role in the constitution.

According to him, as the closest to the people they deserve to be incorporated into the constitutional amendment by way of assigning them the role of the coordinator between the government and the citizenry.

Amadi submitted that the time to assign specific roles to the traditional rulers in the constitution is now because it has been proved that they have the capacity to mediate and ensure peaceful resolution in any situation in their various communities. He said this would give them a pride of place in the national polity.

However, a constitutional lawyer, Abayomi Omoyinmi, said even if they are given constitutional powers, politicians will still not respect the royal fathers because of lack of respect for the rule of law in the country.

He said, “Ordinarily, I would have supported that idea but the situation on ground in the country cannot allow that to happen. Maybe when things improve and we have a peaceful environment where the rule of law is respected, where the right of the citizens to elect their leaders is respected and better infrastructures are on ground, then the traditional rulers can have a place in government.”

 

APC Upbraids PDP Over Unpaid Staff Salary [LEADERSHIP]

The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday chided the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over its inability to pay entitlements of its staff at the party’s national secretariat.

Describing the situation as a “rude shock”, the governing party wondered why such a scenario should play out despite the billions of Naira generated from the sales of nomination forms in the 2019 general election and recently in Edo and Ondo governorship elections.

But in a swift response to APC’s attack, the opposition PDP said the governing party was trying to divert public attention from its failure in governance and the alleged looting spree in its administration.

The deputy national publicity secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, fired the first salvo, when he noted in a statement that some former staff of the PDP have dragged the party before the National Industrial Court in a suit no. NIC/ABJ/260/2020.

APC suggested that if a political party is not capable of running its national secretariat successfully, such party has nothing to do with governance.

It stated: “Nigerians should rather thank their stars that PDP is no longer in power at centre in times like this. Our current intervention is in respect of some Nigerians working at the National Secretariat of the PDP but got sacked recently illegally by the party. The number of staff sacked amount to 50%.

“The sacked staff have already dragged the PDP to the National Industrial Court in the suit no. NIC/ABJ/260/2020. It will amount to wickedness and lack of empathy for the dying PDP to continue to deny it staff what legally belong to them, hence PDP should rather close shop, bearing in mind the popular saying that ‘the labourers deserve their wages.”

Nabena said it was more shocking that the PDP national secretariat which he described as a “house of lies and propaganda” could also resort to threat against its own staff who had diligently worked for the party, get sacked illegally and also denied them what is due to them.

“Where is the empathy, PDP?” The governing party queried, just as it said, “We are reliably informed that for three years since the PDP lost power at the centre, staff of its National Secretariat have also not been paid their Housing Allowances, leading to over 50% of them entrapped in litigations with their various landlords, over 20% have their properties thrown out of their living apartments following which some of them resorted to sleeping in the churches and or squatting with friends and relatives. Some have even sent their family members back to the villages.

“Although the above ugly experience is a culture in opposition PDP but it made worse since most of their leaders do not have easy access to public looting any longer.

“As a responsible governing party, we can only appeal to the leaders in the PDP to show compassion for once because these staffers are Nigerians irrespective of where they are working for now, their entitlements should be paid to the latter, including those that have been illegally sacked.”

The statement, however, appealed to the court of law to do justice to the case before it “as the last hope of a common man.”

But hitting back, PDP lampooned the APC for allegedly seeking to divert attention from its failures and “reported involvement of very top officials of its government in looting spree, by engaging in smear campaign, distortions and wild goose chase on issues that are internal to the PDP.”

National publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that APC was also desperate to divert attention from its “wicked increase in the pump price of fuel to N170 per liter, the indicting revelations from the EndSARS enquiry panels as well as Saturday’s abduction of children in Zaria, Kaduna state by gunmen, who had scaled up attack on Nigerians while the APC has abandoned governance to seek consultancy job in other political parties.”

Describing the attack by APC as a childish smear campaign, PDP said the governing party has exposed its mortal fear over the reorganised PDP, stressing that it the governing party is dazed by the oppositions vibrancy as well as relentless exposure of its failures and complicity of its leaders in alleged humongous corruption in high places.

Ologbondiyan stated: “The APC is discomfited by our repositioning as the rallying platform of Nigerians from all divides in their collective quest to rescue our nation from APC-imposed hardship, violence, bloodletting, decayed infrastructure and mortgaging of our nation to foreign interest.

“We are however not surprised that the APC, which recently admitted to be a party of “bandits”, whose leaders are like “criminal bandits ravaging our communities, towns and villages”, will reduced  itself to a confused busybody, having been overwhelmed by the burden of failure and repulsion of Nigerians to their wicked and exploitative policies.

 

Payment platform crisis: FG may drop IPPIS for ASUU, others as opposition grows [PUNCH]

There were indications on  Sunday  that the Federal Government might adopt any payment  platform developed in universities as an alternative to  the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

The spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, who gave this indication in an interview with The PUNCH, however, gave conditions for adopting any payment platform apart from the IPPIS.

According to him, the platform must be capable of eliminating ghost workers’ syndrome and other forms of  corruption in payment of salaries.

Akpan stated this as opposition to the IPPIS grew on Sunday when   unions including  the Academic Staff Union of Universities,  the  Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities,  the Non-Academic Staff Union and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria said it was only suitable for the civil service.

Recall that ASUU had on March 23,begun an indefinite strike over the government’s insistence on the IPPIS, among other reasons.

Other university unions, which  initially supported the payment system,  backed out on the grounds that it contained many irregularities.

As an alternative to the IPPIS, ASUU had presented its University Transparency and Accountability Solution to the Federal Government.  UTAS is currently being tested  by the National Information Technology Development Agency, while SSANU and NASU have  proposed the University General and Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System.

The President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in an interview with The PUNCH,  restated the union’s opposition to the IPPIS, saying the system  would localise the university system if  adopted.

IPPIS won’t allow non-pensionable appointments needed in universities – ASUU

He stated,  “With the IPPIS, lecturers cannot  move freely across campuses;  across countries.  It is a system that will not allow you to employ people from outside the country, people who are not on pensionable appointments because the IPPIS focuses only on people with pensionable appointments. Contract staff who are needed in scarce areas are shut out. Our colleagues in the  Diaspora who could come and give international flavour and enrich our programmes  are shut out.   If you have a system that will not allow you to fit into global practices, that system cannot fit into a university.”

He explained further that the IPPIS would erode the autonomy of the university system which was established by an Act in 2003.

Ogunyemi added, “The IPPIS was designed for the civil service, which has a uniform approach to a payroll. In the civil service, they have to take permission from the head of civil service before they can employ.  That is not possible in the university education because a university operates a flexible payroll system by the virtue that lecturers can come for short employment and sabbaticals.”

IPPIS has many irregularities, it gives salary of a cleaner to a registrar – SSANU

In the same vein, the newly elected vice president of SSANU, Mr Abdulsobur Salam, explained that the union initially thought the IPPIS would solve some problems in the university system,  but it later found out that it added more problems.

He stated, “At the outset, we did not oppose the IPPIS because we have had issues of corruption in the university system which we thought the  IPPIS would solve. Government made a request that we should key into the IPPIS and they demonstrated to us that the IPPIS had captured everything on salaries.

“But  we have witnessed a lot of irregularities;  salaries are not paid, the  salary of a cleaner given to a registrar and  outright non-payment of staff salaries when staff have been working for 10 months. It is against this background we are now having a second thought. The IPPIS has created a lot of problems than it has resolved.”

Efforts to speak to  the National General Secretary, Mr Peter Adeyemi, NASU, proved abortive as he did not to pick  calls to his mobile phone nor replied an  SMS sent to him.

However, the Chairman of the University of Lagos’ NASU, Mr Kehinde Ajibade explained that the union  found out a lot of irregularities in the IPPIS.

These, he said,  included arbitrary deductions, high taxation, high pension rate and  delay in payments.

Ajibade stated, “What the Federal Government promised us as university workers is contrary to what we are experiencing now.  It’s like the Federal Government deceived us to join the IPPIS. Our salaries were being paid on a platform before we migrated to the IPPIS. Unfortunately, when we got to the IPPIS,  we discovered it was a scam.  It was full of inconsistencies and irregularities  that we are still battling with now.

“That is the reason we are opposing the  IPPIS . Some of these irregularities are high taxation, non-remittance of some of the deductions and cooperative issues. We have submitted our list for payment. It is either it is delayed or we have to send an emissary to their office before they release our money. All these make it difficult for us.  We embarked on a two-week warning strike and the Federal Government invited our leaders. Our national bodies proposed another platform as ASUU did.  The government accepted our new platform and said they would look into it. That’s where we are now.

 

Police raid Lagos black spots, arrest 720 suspects [PUNCH]

The Lagos State Police Command on Sunday said it arrested 720 suspects from different parts of the state for various offences.

The suspects, who were arrested during a raid on black spots in the state, were allegedly arrested with incriminating items.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in a statement on Sunday, noted that the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, had directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligent Department, Panti, to commence further investigation on the suspects.

The statement read in part, “In the swift operations, police operatives of the command arrested 720 suspects with incriminating items, including locally-made guns and life cartridges, charms, weed suspected to be Indian hemp, substances suspected to be cocaine and some items suspected to have been looted from various shopping outlets within the state during the recent #EndSARS violence.

“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, who matched his words with actions, had earlier warned and directed police officers and men to move against lawlessness and criminality in Lagos as he affirmed the zeal of the command to sustain the operations, even beyond the yuletide season.”

Adejobi urged residents whose property were looted during the #EndSARS protest to visit the command and claim their items with proof of ownership.,,

 

Nigeria’s constitution needs replacement, not amendment – Olanipekun [PUNCH]

LEGAL icon, Chief Wole Olanipekun, has disagreed with calls in some quarters for the amendment to the country’s constitution with a view to have a new Nigeria.

Olanipekun said rather, what the constitution needed was “a total overhaul, a redrafting, a re-crafting and a total replacement, starting from the preamble to the definition schedule”.

He asserted that the recent #EndSARS protests showed Nigeria needed restructuring, as he queried the readiness of Nigerians “to drastically restructure this country, starting from the architectural layout of government and governance as wantonly displayed in the constitution foisted on us by the outgoing military government without any input by Nigerians”.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria spoke at his hometown, Ikere Ekiti, Ekiti State, on Saturday during the 2020 edition of the yearly Wole Olanipekun Scholarship Award ceremony where 67 secondary school students, 73 university undergraduates, three Law school students and a doctoral student benefitted.

He said, “Between now and 2023, we should be able to have a clean, practical, pragmatic and acceptable constitution which can jurisprudentially be described as grundnorm.

“All arms of government have to be completely redefined, resituated and restrategised for a new Nigeria which will bring about ‘unity and faith, peace and progress’.

“To achieve this end, the National Assembly must also come to the reality that we need the application of the doctrine of necessity for them to jettison whatever powers are vested in them by the Section 9 of the constitution, etc. to segmentally amend it according to the whims and caprices to ‘we, the people of Nigeria’”.

Olanipekun said that such would enable Nigerians to “sit down and give ourselves a true, realistic and workable constitution after we might have earnestly put all our cards on the table by expressing all our wishes and aspirations.”

He said, “This does not translate to termination or suspension of any of the governments at federal, state or local government levels; so that no one should be under any misgiving that one is advocating a displacement or any government.”

The philanthropist said the scholarship programme, which was established to assist students in his hometown, “has produced 231 graduates out of which 40 are medical doctors, 38 agriculturists, 27 engineers, 37 linguists, 16 political scientists, 25 accountants and 48 law graduates out of which 15 have qualified as lawyers”.

He also disclosed plan to institute the Wole Olanipekun Foundation in the community with the goal of “providing succour to the society, ameliorating the plight of the underprivileged, bringing relief to the indigent, extending helping hands to the needy and making life easier to the widow and providing assistance to the impoverished”.

Olanipekun said that the foundation would be committed to youth empowerment and development in the community, adding, “There will be a special programme styled WOF Youth Empowerment Scheme geared towards supporting entrepreneurship development among our teeming youths”.

 

Freezing #EndSARS campaigners’ accounts, trumped-up charges regressive – Bakare [PUNCH]

The Serving Overseer, Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has described the clampdown on the promoters of the #EndSARS protests by the Federal Government as a sign of regression in the country.

The cleric, who is also the convener of Save Nigeria Group, said the freezing of accounts of the protest promoters, as well as the use of court probes, were intimidation against influencers who backed the protest.

Bakare argued that the clampdown on the youth was contradictory to the earlier olive branch extended to the protesters by the government, such as the scrapping of the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad, setting up of N75bn Nigeria Youth Investment Fund and the appointment of some of the protesting youths onto panels of judicial inquiry to address police brutality.

Bakare said this on Sunday in a state of the nation address titled, ‘The Youth of a Nation are the Trustees of Posterity,’ which he delivered during the Sunday service in his church in the Oregun area of Lagos.

He said, “Truth be told, this season of our national life requires deep humility, sobriety and deliberate thinking through, both by the government and the governed, in order to ensure that our plans, policies and actions are weighed before they are implemented to avert the re-occurrence of our most recent crisis. In light of the foregoing, some of the actions recently taken by the government on the heels of the #EndSARS protests may need to be reversed sooner rather than later in our collective best interest so that they do not trigger further protests.

“Among such policy actions is the freezing of the accounts of young Nigerians who reportedly sponsored the protests. While I admit that, under our extant laws, banks may freeze an account upon an ex parte order granted to a law enforcement agency by a court of competent jurisdiction for the purpose of investigation, these provisions of our law should not be used to intimidate Nigerian youths simply because they engaged in and promoted protests against the inactions of government. In addition, targeting and arresting citizens on trumped-up charges, deploying court probes as a tool of intimidation, and generally eroding our fragile peace, are deeply worrisome signs of regression.”

Warning the government against the planned regulation of the social media to silence the people, Bakare said anyone who sought political relevance in the country should not move against the youth, who possessed power of the social media.

He said, “Any political group that takes the social media-savvy Nigerian youths for granted does so at its own risk or peril. This is why I strongly advise the power blocs, including the South-West governors who are calling for stricter regulation of social media, to desist from doing so.”

Don’t trivialise youths’ demands, says  CAN

Meanwhile, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria Rev. Samson  Ayokunle, has advised the Federal Government to listen to the agitation  of the youth inthe country.

Ayokunle spoke on Saturday at the consecration of Rev. James Owoyemi as the President of the United Apostolic Church of Christ Worldwide in Akure, Ondo State.

Ayokunle said, “The government should trivialise the voice of the youth but to ensure and work assiduously and make concrete plans for them in the developmental programme of the country, especially in creating an enabling environment for employment for the youths.

“I also want to advise the youth to be patient because Rome was not built in a day. They also need to allow the government to have space to rejig things and make plans for them.”

In the same vein, CAN National Vice President, Dr Joseph Alima, in Enugu State on Sunday warned the Federal Government against clampdown on End SARS promoters.

Alima, who gave this warning while inaugurating the new CAN executives in the state, said seizing passports and freezing of accounts of the alleged promoters of the protests, was a recipe for another crisis.

He said, “Government can freeze people’s accounts, lock and shoot people, but that can’t be the solution.”

 

LCCI, NECA caution against petrol price deregulation without competition [THE NATION]

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) have called for a level-playing field in the downstream oil sector.

They were reacting to weekend’s increase which takes petrol price to between N168 and N170 per litre at the pump.

A Petroleum Pricing Marketing Company (PPMC) circular dated November 11 informed petrol marketers of the changes in wholesale price, otherwise called ex-depot price. The letter, with reference number PPMC/C/MKT/003 and signed by Ali Tijani, was approved by the management on November 12.

Maintaining a steady rise since the federal government opted for full deregulation of the downstream segment of the petroleum industry earlier this year, the price of PMS has risen from about N121 in June to N170 this month.

The LCCI said the way out of pricing and deregulation conundrum is to accelerate the process of domestic refining of petroleum products and creating a competitive market framework.

LCCI Director-General Muda Yusuf maintained that a deregulated pricing regime is typically volatile, oscillating with global oil price.

Dr. Yusuf said: “However, deregulation without competition would not give desired outcomes. We are still immersed in a monopolistic structure even as we claim to have deregulated the petroleum downstream sector, he told The Nation in a chat.

He argued that the economy and the citizens cannot get the benefits of deregulation under the current arrangement where the NNPC is still a monopoly in the supply of petrol.”

Yusuf expressed regret that private sector players have no access to forex to import petrol while the refineries are still comatose.

The LCCI chief canvassed the need for the government to urgently put appropriate structures in place for the deregulation regime to achieve its objectives. He also stressed the need to have a level playing field for all actors in the sector.

 

Naira exchanges at N470/$ in parallel market [THE NATION]

The naira has continued to fall in the parallel market as it exchanged at N470 to a dollar at the weekend.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) data showed that spot rate or official exchange rate traded flat all week to close at N379/$1.

Similarly, at the parallel market, rates opened at N464/$1 and closed at N470.00/$1, depreciating N6.00 kobo week-on-week.

At the equities market, market capitalisation advanced by N2.1 trillion to N18.3 trillion within the week, while year-to-date return surged to 30.5 per cent.

At the Investors’ & Exporters’ (I&E) Window, the NAFEX rate opened at N386.21/$1.00 and closed at N386.00/$1.00 on Friday, unchanged from the prior week.

Activity level in I&E Window fell by 22.5 per cent to $561.3 million, from $723.9 million recorded in the previous week.

The weakening of the naira has been attributed to the drop in foreign reserves, which lost $31.6 million to close the week at $35.6 billion. Likewise, OPEC+ projection that demand for crude oil will dip in 2021 added to naira’s woes.

Analysts at Afrinvest West Africa Limited said OPEC+ had revised down its oil demand forecasts for the remainder of the year and 2021 as a result of a weaker-than-expected economic outlook and a surge in COVID-19 cases.

OPEC+ expects oil demand to contract 0.9.8million/per barrel in 2020, a 0.3 million /per barrel from last month’s assessment while in 2021, oil demand growth is projected to rise by 6.2 million/per barrel.

At the FMDQ Securities Exchange (SE) FX Futures Contract Market, the total value of open contracts of the Naira settled at $9.93 billion, up $19.1 million (+0.2 per cent) from $9.92 billion in the prior week.

Analysts predicted stronger forex demand this week due to the easing of lockdown across major economies, a move that will put pressure on the exchange rate in the near term.

Market analysis showed that performance in the T-bills market was bullish as excess funds from the primary auction filtered into the secondary market. Consequently, average yield across benchmark tenors declined 28 basis points week-on-week to close at 0.1 per cent.

At the close of the week, the mid-term instrument enjoyed the most buying interest as the average yields declined 52 basis points week-on-week to 0.1 per cent while yield on the short and long-term instruments dived 27 basis points and 4bps w/w to 0.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively.

“In the coming week, we expect the CBN to resume its liquidity intervention as Open Market Operation (OMO) worth N103.1 billion would hit the system. We expect rates in the secondary T-Bills market to remain low due to huge money supply,” analysts said.

The domestic bourse last week continued the positive run as market gained on all trading days save on Friday.  Consequently, the benchmark index spiked 13 per cent week-on-week   to 35,037.46 points, buoyed by sharp gains in Zenith (+21.7 per cent), BUA Cement (+20.9 per cent) and Dangote Cement (+14.6 per cent).

As such, market capitalisation advanced by N2.1 trillion to N18.3 trillion while year-to-date return surged to 30.5 per cent.

 

$5.8b Mambilla Power Plant to get attention [THE NATION]

The National Assembly may adjust the 2021 Budget estimate to accommodate a take-off grant for $5.8 billion Mambilla Hydro-Electricity plant.

The budget may be passed in the first or second week of next month.

Lawmakers are pushing for the implementation of the Stephen Oronsaye committee’s report to reduce the high cost of governance, especially the recurrent expenditure.

It was learnt that there had been issues with lack of votes for the Mambilla project in the 2021 estimate.

Only the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has committed about $200million into the project.

Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed said the Mambilla Power project was not captured in the 2021 budget because it was not prioritised by the ministry of power.

The financing arrangement indicated that while China’s Export-Import Bank will provide 85 per cent of the resources, the Federal Government caters for 15 per cent of the joint venture.

Chairman of Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola, said the National Assembly was concerned about the takeoff of the plant.

He said: “We are working round the clock to ensure that the 2021 Budget accommodates the take-off grant for the Mabilla Power Plant.

“This administration identified five key infrastructure/ projects for completion before the end of its tenure and Mambilla Power Plant is one of them. Others are Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway; Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the East-West Road and the second Niger Bridge.

“NSIA has sourced for $200m for the project but the Federal Government is yet to make take-off fund available. On this side of the divide, we cannot allow this project to suffer any further delay. This requires adjusting the budget for the take-off grant.”

He said the N13.08 trillion budget may be passed by the National Assembly either in the first or second week of December.

He added: “In line with our legislative agenda and our promise to Nigerians to put in place a January-December budget cycle, we plan to pass the Appropriation Bill by the first or second week of December.

 

Post #EndSARS: Police to undergo massive reform [THE NATION]

These highlights are contained in a new legislation being worked out by the National Assembly, the Federal Government and some stakeholders such as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

The reforms are part of the Legislative Agenda of the 9th National Assembly and strategic response to avert the reoccurrence of SARS brutality.

It was learnt that a bill may be submitted soon to the National Assembly to reflect the reforms.

A comprehensive reform of the PSC has been floated with the tenure of the chairman and members now a single term of five years.

The PSC will be mandated to raise an Independent Committee to review the conduct of individual officers, and any of the units, departments, and tactical squads of the Police.

The Attorney General of the Federation, the Attorney- General of a State, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and any other body prescribed by law can now prosecute any police officer or man with prima facie case against him or her.

In order to hasten the investigation of misconduct by any policeman, the PSC is expected to have offices in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Preliminary studies showed that most of the policemen involved in maltreatment of Nigerians in the SARS were barely educated.

The document, which was obtained by THE NATION, reads in part: “The Police Service Commission shall provide regulations from time to time, stipulating the procedure for recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigerian Police Academy.

“The Commission shall ensure that those regulations stipulate the following minimum qualifications for recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigerian Police Academy – (a) an Ordinary National Diploma (OND); (b)Nigerian citizen with no records of criminal conviction; (c) Have met medical standard entry requirements (including psychological and mental health requirements). 2. The Commission shall also ensure that the recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigeria Police Academy is in accordance with the provisions on national spread and Federal Character in the Constitution.

“The commission shall regularly assess the remuneration for officers of the Nigeria Police Force, and where a review is required, shall make recommendations for review to the National Police Council.”

 

Dissecting Fed Govt’s N75b investment fund for Nigerian youths [THE NATION]

Two significant things happened at the Aso Villa Banquet hall on November 1. It was the day the country celebrated maiden edition of the National Youth Day where 15 young Nigerians innovators were also specially recognised for their talent, creativity and innovations. It was also the day the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development led by the minister, Sunday Dare, launched the N75billion Nigeria Youth Investment Fund.

At the National Youth Day event with the theme: ‘Invest in the youth, secure our future’, President Muhammadu Buhari was represented by Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello who congratulated the young innovators on making the nation proud, assuring them that his government will continue to invest in entrepreneurship, skills and career development.

The Nigeria Youth Investment Fund has been described as the cornerstone and most ambitious intervention fund targeted at young people to become wealth creators. As precursors to the N75billion fund had been a slew of other youth-focused initiatives of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and that of Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development such as the N-Power that have engaged 500,000 young Nigerians in the last 5 years out of which 109,000 of the beneficiaries have become entrepreneurs. The Federal Government is targeting the first quarter of 2021 to absolve the next batch of 400,000 youths under the N-Power Programme, according to Aminu Nyako, Special Assistant to Minister of Humanitarian Affairs.

Some other youth empowerment initiatives domiciled with the Ministry of Youth and Sports are the partnership with Mastercard Foundation and Corporate Farmers which seeks to engage 50,000 young Nigerians in Sorghum farming. There is also a partnership with the IBM, a global technology giant to train 14,000 Nigerians in Digital Skills and Artificial Intelligence as well as the partnership the Minister, Sunday Dare brokered with Google to train over 20,000 youths across the country. Under the watch of the Minister, Africa Development Bank is also working in partnership with the Nigerian government to launch a special fund for youth.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Sunday Dare gave a panoramic view of the government investments in the development of young people as the future of the country. He noted that the recent youth-led #EndSARS protests across the country against Police brutality underscored the ability of the young people of Nigeria to demand accountability from leaders, most especially in matters that affect them.

Government, the minister said, will continue to celebrate the energy and talents of Nigerian youth adding that the National Youth Day celebration provided the rare opportunity for national introspection and more meaning engagement.

“Against the backdrop of all our country has witnessed in the past three weeks, there can be no better time than now to celebrate our youth and validate their contributions to national economic development.

And indeed beyond the celebration of the potentials, ingenuity, talents, innovativeness and resourcefulness of our youth in Nigeria and across the world, this event, the Maiden edition of the National Youth Day offers us as a people the opportunity to reflect, take stock and chart a new youth action plan that tackles headlong the issues that confront our teeming youth population,” the Minister said.

On the current challenges of youth unemployment and shrinking opportunities for socio-economic mobility, Dare revealed that his Ministry, at a multilateral level, is working on a more structured and sustainable way in conjunction with the African Development Bank on a new focus and vision that will unearth and accelerate ingenuity among the young people of Nigeria.

“Let me start with a direct reference to the new focus and youth vision of the African Development Bank led by Nigeria’s Dr. Akinwumi Adesina that the establishment of Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks will help to fully unleash youth potentials through technology and entrepreneurship. This assertion made in September 2020 first validates the strength of our youth and secondly demands from government and the private sector direct investments in the youth population with a de-risking mentality.”

 

Biden ‘won rigged poll’, says Trump [THE NATION]

United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump has acknowledged that his Democratic challenger Joe Biden won the November 3 presidential poll, but reiterated his claim that the vote was “rigged.”

“He (Biden) won because the election was rigged,” Trump wrote on Twitter yesterday, not referring to Biden by name.

But, former White House Adviser John Bolton has asked GOP leaders to go against Trump’s assertion that the winner of the 2020 election has not yet been decided.

Biden overwhelmed Trump by winning a series of battleground states that the Republican incumbent won in 2016.

The former vice president also won the national popular vote by more than 5.5 million votes or 3.6 percentage points.

Biden has won 306 votes in the state-by-state Electoral College system that determines the presidential winner, according to Edison Research, far more than the 270 needed.

Instead, Trump has spent his days attending few public events and pressed unsubstantiated allegations of fraud on social media.

Trump has also stalled the government’s normal process of preparing for a new presidential administration, which both Democrats and some Republican have said has serious national security implications.

The U.S. campaign team and Republicans have also sought to press their case in court in key battleground states, but have been widely rejected.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have moved forward with their transition efforts, including briefings on the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Trump supporters trooped to streets in Washington DC to echo his electoral fraud claims.

The “Million MAGA March,” referring to Trump’s campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again,” drew a crowd of flag-waving supporters to downtown Washington.

“Hundreds of thousands of people showing their support in D.C. They will not stand for a Rigged and Corrupt Election!” the president wrote on Twitter, though most crowd estimates were well short of Trump’s figure.

Trump’s motorcade passed through the crowd on its way to his golf course in Virginia, producing cheers from demonstrators as the president waved from the back seat.

The march was largely peaceful, though numerous scuffles broke out between Trump supporters and counter-protesters that continued after dark. One person was stabbed and taken to a trauma centre.

Dozens of Proud Boys, a far-right group, marched in the streets, some wearing helmets and ballistic vests, while members of the loose far-left movement known as Antifa staged their own counter-demonstrations.

The city’s police arrested at least 10 people, including several who were charged with assault.

With his chances of reversing the outcome virtually extinguished, Trump has discussed with advisers potential media ventures that would keep him in the spotlight ahead of a possible 2024 White House bid, aides said.

Bolton said Trump is misrepresenting the election results by making claims of voter fraud and asked members of the Republican Party to step up and go against the president’s remarks.

“I think it’s very important for leaders of the Republican Party to explain to our voters, who are not as stupid as the Democrats think, that in fact, Trump has lost the election and that his claims of election fraud are baseless,” Bolton said yesterday on ABC News’ This Week.

 

 

 

 

 

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