Dangote to build sugar plants in 6 states

Dangote Group has signed a deal to commence the building of integrated sugar plants in six states in Nigeria.

Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the group, made the announcement at a forum in Lagos to honour major distributors of Dangote Foods in Lagos on Thursday.

He said that the plants, expected to generate up to 100,000 jobs, would be built in Adamawa, Taraba, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kogi, and Niger.

Dangote said, “We are acquiring about 150,000 hectares for sugar plantations in Adamawa, Taraba, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kogi, and Niger.

“We have designed a memorandum of understanding with the Nasarawa State Government for the construction of the sugar complex at Tunga,’’ he stated.

He said that the company’s push for backward integration in providing raw materials on a large scale would result to a cumulative investment of 4.6 billion dollars in the next three years in sugar, rice and dairy production.

According to him, the plants will help to eliminate Nigeria’s reliance on imported materials and also help to save foreign exchange.

He re-stated that the group had earmarked 12 billion dollars for the building of a refinery at Ibeju-Lekki, near Lagos, to resolve Nigeria’s persistent petroleum scarcity crisis.

The mogul disclosed that the company’s annual revenue exceeded 4.1 billion dollars in 2017, expressing the determination of the group to exploit the huge business potential in Nigeria.

He commended the award recipients, saying that the event was a moment to appreciate customers’ efforts in making Dangote food products a household name in Nigeria.

Dangote said that the group would sustain its leading position in the food sector, noting that Dangote Flour Mills, its Sugar Refinery and NASCON Allied Industries had remained pacesetters.

He said that the target of the group was to ensure that Nigeria became self-sufficient in food.

According to him, the group focuses on a three-point agenda of sustaining high product quality, improving customers’ engagement and strengthening supply chain capabilities.


With NAN reports

Nigeria warns on ECOWAS currency integration

ACCRA –  The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, has cautioned member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) against forcing through the planned currency integration in the sub-region by 2020.

President Buhari, who was represented by the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, issued the warning on Tuesday, February 21, 2018, during the 5thmeeting of the Presidential Task Force on ECOWAS Currency Programme in Accra, Ghana, noting that Heads of Government had not properly articulated and analysed a comprehensive picture of the state of preparedness of individual countries for monetary integration by 2020.

He reiterated that the non-preparedness of some member countries, the credibility of the union if anchored on watered down criteria, and the continuing disparities between macroeconomic conditions in ECOWAS countries, continued to be major issues of concern that members must examine in order to make progress.

Pres. Buhari further observed that ECOWAS Heads of Government had not been adequately briefed on the full implications of forcing through the integration by 2020, particularly where some countries were not individually ready domestically.

While pointing out that there were still outstanding issues in the roadmap to an integrated currency union, he noted that the macroeconomic fundamentals of many countries in ECOWAS were diverse and uncertain. He also noted that the inflation targeting regime recommended as framework was not feasible as it was based on adoption of a flexible exchange rate regime. He equally noted that real convergence was nowhere near achievable despite efforts made so far.

President Buhari, therefore, called for a push towards ratification and domestication of legal instruments and related protocols, and the harmonization of all fiscal, trade and monetary policies and statistical systems, with a view to limiting the extent of current policy divergences.

He also advised that the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) countries to make a presentation on a clear roadmap towards delinking from the French Treasury.

Furthermore, the President called for a review of the fast-track approach to monetary integration and the harmonization of plans by ECOWAS members with that of the African Union Programme of monetary convergence that had recommended a convergence deadline of 2034 for the for the establishment of Regional Central Banks in all sub-regions of the continent.

President Buhari also used the occasion of the meeting to call for the establishment of an Ombudsman with powers to invoke sanctions when member countries are in breach of agreed standards, protocols and convergence criteria.

The Nigerian President also called for the transformation of the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) into a West African Monetary Zone Commission, equivalent to the UEMOA Commission, stressing that his proposal of merging WAMI and WAMA, by the ECOWAS Commission into the ECOWAS Monetary Institute would be very critical in achieving monetary union in the West African sub-region.

CBN disburses N55bn to farmers via Anchor borrowers programme

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says it has disbursed N55 billion to more than 250,000 farmers within two years of implementation of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).

The Acting-Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Isaac Okorafor confirmed the figure on Wednesday in Abuja during a media briefing on the implementation of the programme.

The ABP was launched in Kebbi State on Nov. 17, 2015, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It was designed to create economic linkages between farmers and processors, not only to ensure increased agricultural output of rice and wheat, but also close the gap between production and consumption.

Okorafor was accompanied to the briefing by the Special Adviser to the CBN Governor, Mr Olatunde Akande, and top executive of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) led by its President, Alh. Aminu Gorongo.

Okorafor said that out of the N55 billion provided by the apex bank to farmers, 80 per cent of the amount, N44 billion was given to rice farmers alone.

He said the need to provide rice farmers adequate funding was to ensure self sufficiency in rice production and to also ensure that Nigeria becomes a net exporter of the product.

“It goes to underscore the effectiveness and efficiency that the CBN has put into this programme.

“We have assisted about 250,000 farmers across Nigeria to cultivate close to 300,000 hectares of farmlands and you can see the impact on the streets’’ he said.

In his remarks, the RIFAN president Gorongo said that the association was partnering with the CBN to increase rice production by two million tonnes in 2018.

He said under the new ABP partnership between the CBN and RIFAN, 200,000 farmers would be given fresh funds to plant rice in the dry season farming.

According to him, another 500,000 rice farmers would also be mobilised during the wet season farming.

Gorongo said that through the funding, the farmers would be able to employ a total of five million people to work on rice production value chain during the period.

He said so far, farmers in about 34 states were presently under the new ABP with RIFAN.

“We have started collaboration with the CBN to have a private sector driven ABP, which means that under this new agreement, the state governments are not involved.

“We have launched this programme to put this country on the right part, especially in the area of agri-business.’’

Also speaking, Akande, the Special Assistant to the CBN Governor on Development Finance, said the ABP had been digitised to keep account of the activities of all the farmers involved.

According to him, under the new agreement with RIFAN, each farmer’s identity, home address, farm location and other vital information has been captured and each farmer is given a biometric card.

He said the new system would help resolve the issue of delay in payments to farmers and also the recoupment of funds borrowed out by the CBN.

“We have successfully digitally mapped all the farmers that are participating in the projects. This makes the new programme reliable, accessible and verifiable.

“The digitisation will ensure that no farmer will collect payment and refuse to pay. So loan repayment is guaranteed.

“Also, in the new agreement, RIFAN will provide training, and ensure that whatever is given to the farmers are well utilised.

“Depending on the season and the crop which is being cultivated, each farmer will get a support of about N250, 000 per hectare,’’ he said.


Forex Market gets CBN’s $210 million boost

The inter-bank Foreign Exchange Market has received the sum of $210million from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to meet customers’ requests in various segments of the market.

In its determination to meet the customers’ needs in the sundry segments of the market, the CBN offered $100million to authorized dealers in the wholesale segment of the market, while the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment got the sum of $55 million, according to figures obtained from the Bank on Monday, February 12, 2018.  The figures also indicated that customers needing foreign exchange for Invisibles such as tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), among others, were also allocated the sum of $55 million.

The Bank’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department (CCD), Mr. Isaac Okorafor, assured Nigerians that the Bank will continue to intervene in the interbank foreign exchange market, in line with its pledge to sustain liquidity in the market and maintain stability. According to Mr. Okorafor, the CBN will not renege on its promise to manage the forex with a view to reducing the country’s import bills and halting depletion of its foreign reserves.

It will be recalled that last Friday, February 9, 2018, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had again intervened in the Retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) to the tune of $325.64 million to cater for requests in the airlines, agricultural, petroleum products and raw materials and machinery sectors.

Meanwhile, the naira continued its stability in the FOREX market, exchanging at an average of N361/$1 in the BDC segment of the market on Monday, February 12, 2018.

PHOTO:  Fidelity Bank Chairman with VP at the Foundation Laying and Commissioning of Beloxxi Inds Ltd, Phase2

EXPANSION PROJECT-R: the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Beloxxi Industries Limited, Mr. Obi Ezeude; Chairman, Beloxxi Industries Limited, Mr. Ernest Ebi and the Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo at the commissioning of Phase 2 and Foundation Laying of Beloxxi Industries’ Phase 3 Expansion Project in Agbara, Ogun State last Thursday.

Forex: CBN intervenes in Retail SMIS with $325.64m

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has again intervened in the Retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) to the tune of $325.64 million.

Figures obtained from the Bank on Friday, February 9, 2018, indicate that the amount released was for requests in the agricultural, airlines, petroleum products and raw materials and machinery sectors.

The figures were confirmed by the Bank’s Acting Director in charge of Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, who noted that the continued intervention were in line with the assurances made by the Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to sustain market liquidity in order to boost production and trade.

According to Okorafor, the feedback from the wholesale and retail segments of the Nigerian Forex markets showed that customers were satisfied with their level of access to foreign exchange. He said the degree of optimism displayed by all players underscored the fact that everyone was happy with the level of transparency in the market.

Speaking further, Okorafor assured that, with the recession now over and foreign reserves now standing at $42 billion, the CBN had enough in its arsenal to maintain the international value of the Naira as well as guarantee access to forex by those requiring it to meet genuine needs.

He also reiterated that the desire of the Bank to ensure that all, particularly low end users, had access to foreign exchange to meet genuine needs prompted the Bankers’ Committee, in its first meeting of 2018, to agree to sell United States dollars to those requiring it for invisibles at the rate of N360/$1, without any commission whatsoever.

It will be recalled that the CBN in its last SMIS, in January 2018, injected the sum of $304.4 million in the inter-bank Foreign Exchange Market.

Meanwhile, the naira exchanged at N361/$1 in the BDC segment of the market on Friday, February 9, 2018.

PHOTO: Royal Hibiscus, a movie sponsored by Fidelity bank Premieres

Royal Hibiscus, a movie sponsored by Fidelity Bank Plc premiered at the weekend. The movie is essentially a love story and Fidelity Bank has a love relationship with all stakeholders. This is reflective in all their operations, how they treat their staff, stakeholders and more importantly customers.

The movie is to encourage the art of positive story telling given that Cinema is a very powerful medium that should be exploited to help change the narrative about Nigeria and Africa.

L_R: Chairman, Board of Directors, Fidelity Bank Plc, Ernest Ebi; President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya; Chief Executive Officer, EbonyLive TV, Mo Abudu; and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo at the premiere of Royal Hibiscus, a comedy film sponsored by Fidelity Bank Plc.

PHOTOS: Fidelity bank receives BCMS & ISMS CERTIFICATION

Fidelity Bank formally received the British Standards Institution (BSI) certification for Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) from the UK High Commissions’ Dep. Director International Trade & Investment at an Award Certification Presentation ceremony at the Bank’s Corporate Head Office in Lagos on Wednesday.

The event pictures are published here…

RIGHT TO LEFT: UK High Commissions’ Dep. Director International Trade & Investment, Mr. Ben Ainsley presenting the Information Security Management System (ISMS) and Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) Certificates to Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo on behalf of the British Standards Institution (BSI) ….. in Lagos on Wednesday.

Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo (2nd right) receiving the British Standards Institution (BSI) certification for Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) from UK High Commissions’ Dep. Director International Trade & Investment, Mr. Ben Ainsley in Lagos Wednesday.  With them are Banking & Payment Systems Officer,  Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),  Mr. Bature Yunana Magaji (left) and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Digital Jewels Limited.

Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo (2nd right) receiving the British Standards Institution (BSI) certification for Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) from UK High Commissions’ Dep. Director International Trade & Investment, Mr. Ben Ainsley in Lagos Wednesday.  With them are Banking & Payment Systems Officer,  Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),  Mr. Bature Yunana Magaji (left) and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Digital Jewels Limited

NPA gives Intels 2-week ultimatum to remit $48m into TSA

Intels Nigeria limited (Intels) has been given two weeks by the Nigeria Ports Authority to remit an outstanding $48 million into agency’s treasury single account (TSA).

The money ought to have been remitted in 2017.

Ms. Hadiza Usman, managing director of NPA, in an interview with CNBC Africa, said Intels’ notice of termination will stand if the company is unable to settle the debt.

She said, “I am giving Intels a possible two-week window to provide the payment. Two weeks from this week- following which the notice of termination will not be withdrawn.”

“And just to also add that all procedures have been done. All manner of communication has been made to Intels to remit those monies.”

“One of the issues we have had with Intels is their non-compliance with the TSA. As you are aware, the Nigerian government instituted the treasury single account which is the account that all revenues of government need to be paid into.

“Intels collects revenue on behalf of Nigeria Ports Authority and had refused to comply with TSA and kept retaining those revenues in their coffers.

“So we insisted that they must comply, no company is above the laws of the country and we went through the whole process.

“I think it’s important for all entities operating in an environment to adhere to the rules and regulations,” she said.

“What we seek to ensure is that you have a level playing field and you must comply to regulations. At no point was Nigeria Ports Authority not going to remit their own portion of the revenues.

“All other third-party agreements that we have in the Nigerian Ports Authority have a similar structure, so why should Intels feel it can operate outside of the law? The other companies are complying, why don’t you comply?”

It will be recalled that the Nigeria Ports Authority in September last year voided its agreement with Intels on the advice of Abubakar Malami, the attorney general of the federation.

We ‘have no data’ to back govt’s claim of seven million new jobs-NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has no data on the job creation claims made by Chris Ngige, minister of labour and productivity, Yemi Kale, the statistician of the federation has said.

Kale made this statement in an interview with Abang Mercy.

Ngige had earlier said the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has created eight million jobs through its programmes while the minister of agriculture Audu Ogbe put the figure at about six million.

But Kale said during the interview: “We don’t have the data anyway, that data of is 6 or 7 million, we don’t have that. I can’t comment on what other data users or data producers say but I can comment on what we produce here as the official source of data.

“We have not produced any data on job creation, we produced data on people that were unemployed at the particular time and that is what we are sticking to.

“We don’t do politics at the NBS, the National Bureau of Statistics is the official source of data. Our law does not allow us to be countered. The law says very clearly that NBS is the official source of Nigerian data.

“Everybody else can have their opinion, they can do their own computations if they want to but when it comes to national data, the authoritative source, the custodian of all data is the NBS.

“So we don’t comment on what other people even ministers say as far as data is concerned. Our data is for evidence-based policy and decision making and that is what we do.”