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Shelter Afrique calls for establishment of housing microfinance fund

Source: KBC

Nigeria’s external imbalance widens on increasing offshore borrowings

Nigeria’s ability to weather the storm from external shocks or sudden deterioration in economic conditions is waning as the country’s increasing appetite for foreign borrowings continues to outpace accretion to external reserves.

Since the 2014 collapse in oil prices that caused the spread between the Federal Government’s actual and projected revenues to widen, the country has resorted to tapping debt from the international market (offshore) to fund its planned expenditure and this has caused external buffers to thin.

A country’s external buffer is the difference between external reserves and total foreign debt (borrowings). Put differently, in the event of a downtrend in oil prices and foreign portfolio outflows, the external buffer shows the extent to which the countries could withstand such pressures.

For Africa’s largest economy, external debts have almost tripled and despite improvements in foreign exchange reserves, the country’s external buffer has declined in the last six years as the upsurge in offshore debt during the period weakened the economy’s shock absorber.

The country’s defence against external shocks to the economy has weakened by a Cumulative Annual Growth Rate (CAGR or constant annual growth) of 7.24 percent since 2014 owing to increase in foreign debt of 23.59 percent (CAGR), while reserves accretion grew by a CAGR of 5.48 percent.

External buffer has declined since 2017 where the cushion broke a downward trend and grew to $19.86bn. The growth in 2017 was on the back of a 50 percent increase in external reserves as Brent bounced back from the 2016 price fall.

 

However, since buffer rose 38 percent in 2017, it has steadily declined by 14 percent to a current amount of $17bn, the second least recorded in the last six years and only $2.57bn higher than when Nigeria entered recession in 2016.

“The data reflects that the Nigerian economy still remains vulnerable to external shocks, particularly downturn in global oil price,” said Gbolahan Ologunro, equity analyst at Lagos-based CSL Stockbrokers. “Notwithstanding, there is still some sort of headroom for urgent fiscal measures to avert the impending crisis.”

One of such measures, he said, is fiscal consolidation to improve revenue and reduce government reliance on borrowings.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a country’s foreign reserves are those external assets that are readily available to and controlled by a country’s monetary authorities. They comprise foreign currencies, other assets denominated in foreign currencies, gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs) and IMF reserve positions that can be used in directing the finances of international payments imbalances or for indirect regulation of the magnitude of such imbalances via intervention in foreign exchange markets in order to affect the exchange rate of the country’s currency.

Nigeria’s foreign reserves stand at $45 billion in the month of July while external debt stood around $28 billion as at the first quarter of 2019, according to data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Debt Management Office (DMO), respectively.

A $28 billion external debt would mean the country only has about $17 billion from which it would settle its import bills and probably intervene in sustaining the naira at its current price of N360/$1 in the foreign exchange market.

Analysts are of the view that a fall in crude oil prices which accounts for about 84 percent of the country’s foreign earnings, and a reversal in capital flows, could mount pressure on the CBN’s firepower in stabilising the economy.

The government’s inability to generate as much revenue to finance its project has lured it to cheap foreign debt in order to avoid crowding out the private sector in domestic debt market.

“If anything happens negatively to crude oil price, we might be forced to devalue and the value of the foreign exchange debt becomes a big burden,” said an analyst in a leading investment banking firm.

“The end result is that the integrity of the naira which the apex bank had hoped to protect would worsen,” the person explained.

Nigeria’s external reserves have been growing steadily since 2017 but foreign debt has leaped. External debt soared in 2017 following the global oil crisis, caused a devaluation of the naira and pushed the country into a recession. Nigeria’s external borrowing rose 65 percent in 2017.

Although the rate at which Nigeria increased foreign debt has slowed from 34 percent in 2018 to 11 percent so far in 2019, the DMO announced earlier in the year that it would increase borrowing from external sources as strategy to balance its overall debt stock.

Some economists are of the view that countries of the world can borrow to spend on social welfare, public sector wages and capital expenditure (investments in buildings, roads, public facilities) in order to grow their economy.

However, for Africa’s most populous country, the argument does not “hold water” as increasing debt profile has failed to reflect in economic growth.

Within a five-year period, Nigeria has grown its total debt profile by 116.9 percent to fund its recurrent and capital expenditure in its budget without this borrowed money translating into a corresponding increase in economic growth as GDP has averaged a 2 percent growth.

Source: BY MICHAEL ANI & SEGUN ADAMS

World’s first ropeless elevators to be unveiled at Expo 2020 Dubai

When EXPO 2020 opens its doors in Dubai in October 2020, the world’s first ropeless elevator for skyscrapers will be featured prominently. thyssenkrupp Elevator’s pioneering system was selected as one of the EXPO’s lighthouse projects.

The world’s first ropeless elevator for skyscrapers by Thyssenkrupp will feature at Expo 2020.

Known as Multi, the system can move multiple cars in a single shaft, vertically and horizontally, and has been selected as one of the lighthouse projects to be presented in the German Pavilion during Expo.

“Dubai is both a significant global business hub and a tourist destination. It’s a city that provides a platform for new inventions, attracting people and businesses from around the world. Multi will support this aim, demonstrating to those at Expo 2020 precisely how technology can support the growth of urban mobility,” said Peter Walker, CEO at Thyssenkrupp Elevator.

Multi requires fewer and smaller shafts than conventional elevators and can decrease a building’s elevator footprint by up to 50 percent – current elevator-escalator footprints can occupy up to 40-percent of a high-rise building’s floor space.

As well as moving vertically and horizontally, Multi also moves on inclines. And instead of one cabin per shaft, it offers multiple cabins operating in a loop, resulting in a 50 percent higher transport capacity, as well as reduced waiting times for passengers.

The new technology, which was first revealed in 2017, removes height limitations and can be used for skybridges to shuttle from one building to another. It can be also used to open up new directions of travel in underground transport hubs.

Multi moves with a top speed of five to six m/s and requires dramatically lower peak power – as much as a 70-percent reduction when compared to conventional elevator systems

Source: Arabian Business

Abeokuta church older than Nigeria, up for ‘demolition

St. John’s Church Igbein is 67 years older than Nigeria. Following social media debates over its proposed demolition, Daily Trust on Saturday investigates the matter. Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, parades a number of historical and architectural masterpieces built in the 1880s and 1900s, and such structures have stood the test of time.

A drive through Igbein Road in the heart of Abeokuta, one would catch a glimpse of the architectural masterpiece of St. John’s Church Igbein, built from stone and marble.  It was built in 1847. The 172-year-old structure located about half-a-kilometre from Government House, was recently caught in a web of controversy over its remodelling plan. Looking at the building from afar, it could be mistaken for a modern-day structure, because of its contemporary design and other features. The linguist, Samuel Ajayi Crowther who is also Africa’s first bishop, was the first vicar of the church. Crowther who translated the Bible into Yoruba language, was reportedly, also reunited with his mother in this church after 25 years of separation, thanks to the slave trade.

The church which once sat on a huge expanse of land, is now being cramped with other structures due to urbanity and development. The whole church building as well adjoining structures including the vicarage, could hardly boast of four plots having been caught up by development in the metropolis. Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, father of the late Afro Music maestro and legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, attended the church. He is among other notable Egba Christian leaders buried in the church premises. Save St John’s Church Recently, human rights activist, Prof Chidi Odinkalu came up with the #SaveStJohnsIgbein campaign on Twitter, kicking against the planned new church building at the expense of the old architectural masterpiece. In a series of tweets Odinkalu who was chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) castigated the plan alleged to “demolish” and “uproot” the church, describing it as “unimaginable and vandalism against the patrimony.”

Odinkalu argued that “In any sensible country, St John’s Igbein will be protected as or listed building be an acknowledgement of historical character of the building and will make it difficult to simply destroy the building at whim. He added that, “No country survives without a history. Those who seek to deny #Nigeria, access to history, deserve to be fought and stopped.

That’s why it is important to rally those still interested in our past to an effort #SaveStJohnsIgbein. It is just the right thing to do.” His social media campaign generated many reactions from those who believed the church must not be “demolished.” A former commissioner of Health in the state, Olaokun Soyinka, commended Odinkalu for raising the awareness, but promised to investigate the matter. He wrote on Twitter, saying, “Thanks for raising the awareness of this. I’m sad that anyone would even consider demolishing a church built in 1847.

Do you have any more details? I’ll investigate, amplify the message and be on standby to get out on the streets if necessary. It must not happen. #SaveStJohnsIgbein.” But the Vicar of the church, Venerable Bamidele Odutayo fired back at those behind the campaign, describing their positions as “being judgmental on fallacies.” Odutayo wrote: “It’s very important to get facts on an issue than being judgmental on fallacies.

May God forgive you all. Current facts will soon be revealed.” When Daily Trust Saturday visited the church on Thursday, Venerable Odutayo was out or town. However, the Peoples’ Warden, Surveyor Adetunji Adegunle gave our reporter a tour of the building explained the situation, he called “expansion of the church building.” He frowned at what he called propaganda against the peoples’ wish, saying there is no plan to demolish the church. “These things have been on for almost six years now. And two years ago, the foundation stone of the new church was laid during the 40th anniversary of our diocese, it was one of the projects embarked upon by the Diocese,” Adegunle said. Pointing at a peeling plaque which reads:

“To the Glory of God, the foundation laying of St John’s New Church Building was laid by His Grace Most Reverend (Prof) Adebayo Dada Akinde, Ph.D supported by Bishop E O Adekunle on Saturday 6, August, 2016 to mark Ruby Anniversary of Egba Anglican Diocese.” Describing the expansion plan, Adegunle told Daily Trust Saturday that, “What we wanted to do is to have a new church.

This is because we have realized that anytime we have a special programme, the church barely takes half of the population. So, the need to get more space for the church’s activities has arisen. “So, we decided to have a new church, leaving the old church as it. We tried to get land especially the houses beside the church. It took us almost two years to look for the owner and at the end of the day, the owner said they cannot sell their land. “We now decided that we should use the space between the old church and the Vicar’s House (for the new church).

But we discovered that the space is small and it cannot occupy what we want to do.” ‘We are not totally demolishing the church’ Six years ago, the church’s leadership conceived a ‘remodelling idea’ due to lack of space for the congregants if they were to hold special events. Also, during Sunday services, members often seat in the premises of the health centre outside the auditorium.

Aided by an amplifier, positioned outside, they listened to the ongoing service. However, the ‘remodelling plan’ was taken further in August 2016 with foundation laying of the new church building during the 40th anniversary of the Egba Anglican Diocese, which the church belongs to. In what appears to be a dramatic turn of events the development is generating controversy three years after. Adegunle said, “We engaged an architect who designed for us [the new church building]. What we intend to do now is to build a new church that will enter into the old one.

The altar area will be removed and another building from behind into the old church in such a way that the altar will be at the centre. So, there will be congregation from the side of the old church and there will be congregation from the other end of the new church building.” He also said, “We are not totally demolishing the church, what we want to do is to expand the church. But definitely, it is going to affect the west end of the church. That’s what we want to do. We have got the structural and the architectural design. Everything is now set.

We are going to have the church as it is and another four-storey building.” According to him, the leadership of the church had factored in the need to preserve the old church building including the tombs, describing them as heritage. “The foundation of the church was laid in 1831. If in 1813 such huge church was built and I know the people of Christians then could not even occupy the auditorium, so if we are building another church in the 21st century, we should be thinking of a church that will accommodate people in next 20 to 25 years.

This is the essence of what we are trying to do. We know we need to perverse our heritage because the church is our heritage. But in this case, there is nothing we can do than to marry the two together,” he said. Asked whether the leadership considered relocation of the church, he responded, “It is difficult to relocate this kind of church. It’s a metropolitan church. It’s not easy. Most of the people that come to the church are from this area – Imo, Igbein and Kemta. If we decide to move to another location, are we going to move the people too? It’s not easy.

That is why churches are planted around other areas to cater for those living there.” On the social media campaign, Adegunle said, “These days when people are not in agreement with the decision taken by the majority, they try to throw up propaganda against the peoples’ wish. We know that propaganda started among our members who are not pleased [with the decision]. Majority of our members know that we are not demolishing the church.”

Source: DailyTrust

How N-Power beneficiaries abscond from duty, abuse opportunity in three states

Seated behind a wooden desk in the fairly large room that serves as the principal’s office, Alima Muthar spoke calmly into the phone.

”I am not aware of your redeployment from my school to another school, your desk officer is here with me,” she told the person at the other end, an N-Power beneficiary who is repeatedly absent from work.

“I would have to report you to him and confirm if truly you have been redeployed.”

The principal at Aliyu Mustapha Junior Secondary School in Yola, Adamawa State, Mrs Muthar regularly makes such phone calls to more than half of the 17 N-Power beneficiaries in her school to demand a reason for their absence from class.

She said she rarely sees more than seven of the N-Power Teach volunteers deployed to her school on any given school day.

Mrs Muthar also said she could not fathom why many beneficiaries posted to schools across the states abscond from their primary duties.

”I have to be frank with you sir, most of them (beneficiaries), do not come to school, maybe they are engaged in another job,” she said. ”Every working day, I resume to work, I do not see up to seven N-Teach volunteers a day.

”Whenever I call any of the beneficiaries on the phone, some say they are in Cameroon or not around. I don’t know why they dodge their responsibilities,” she said.

The principal suggested that the government should embark on strict measures in handling the issue.

The school head is one of the many principals who complained about the N-Power volunteers who are absconding from their Place of Primary Assignments (PPA), a PREMIUM TIMES fact-finding investigation has shown.

The investigation is in collaboration with Zeitgeist Aesthetics, a not-for-profit organisation on how the National Social Investment programme (NSIP) has fared in three selected states: Katsina, Kano, and Adamawa.

The assessment included interviews with officials, beneficiaries in various schools under the N-Teach and N-Agro sub-components.

A laudable initiative

The N-Power was introduced in 2016 as part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), aimed at curbing the incessant increase of unemployment and poverty in the country.

The programme volunteers are paid N30,000 monthly as stipends and given tablet computers to aid further learning. It has five components, which are N-Teach, N-Tax, N-Health, N-Agro, and N-Build.

According to data from the National Social Investment Office (NSIO), as of August 2018, an estimated 500,000 graduates volunteer in N-Teach, N-Tax, N-Health, and N-Agro which are designed for graduates,

About 26,000 non-graduates in the N-Build, which consist of automobile, hospitality and technology categories are currently being trained in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The government in 2016 budgeted N500 billion for the SIP. However, as of May 16, only about N41 billion had been expended on the four programmes with the N-Power gulping N26 billion.

Out of the SIP components, the N-Teach subcomponent is the most popular, due to a large number of youth deployed to teach in public schools.

The Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in 2017 criticised the programme ”for trying to kill quality education by deploying unqualified teachers to public schools”.

Complaints galore

Apart from Mrs Muthar, her counterpart from another N-power component in the state, Asabe Jefe, from Aliyu Mustapha Memorial Maternity clinic popularly known as Yola Maternity Centre, also shared the same views about the ‘laziness’ of the N-Health volunteers posted to her health centre.

The 56-year old female health worker described the N-Power volunteers as ”thieves.”

”I do not know that she (beneficiary) works here, the only one that comes is not even punctual. I do not even understand why they are here, and they still get paid for nothing,” she said in the Hausa language through an interpreter.

”What they are doing is no different from people who go around with guns and steal from people.”

Mrs Jefed, who is the principal community extension worker said she has two N-Health volunteers deployed at her clinic, a male and a female. She said, the female volunteer never comes to work.

”Although the other person comes, he is never punctual,” she added.

Asked what could be done regarding the truancy, she said: ”It is very sad because President (Muhammadu) Buhari designed this programme to reduce poverty and unemployment, and these young people have refused to come to work. I do not know; maybe they should stop paying them.”

Also, PREMIUM TIMES visited Mustafa Government Day (JSS) also in Yola: an afternoon day secondary school that begins academics at 12:30 p.m.

Usani Usman, the school’s vice principal, said they have 27 N-Power Teach volunteers deployed to the school.

”I was posted to this school not more than three months ago, many have been punctual to school, but the others stay some distance away,” Mr Usman said.

Similarly, at the primary school section, the Head Teacher, Samira Hummawa, told PREMIUM TIMES that the N-Power volunteers have been punctual, ”but some do not come to school regularly”.

‘’I can tell you our the N-power teachers have added more impact to this school and the society at large,” Mrs Hammawa said. ”Before they (N-Power teachers) came, we did not have enough teachers in this school, but now they have been very helpful most of the classes are no more empty.”

Silence in Kano; commendation in Katsina

In Kano, PREMIUM TIMES visited Danwere Primary School, in Sabon Gari. When asked about the FG’s N-Power volunteers in his school, the head teacher, who refused to give his name told PREMIUM TIMES: ”Those ‘useless’ people, I have not been seeing them for a while.”

He then declined to answer any more questions ”unless we got a letter from the Kano State Education Board.”

PREMIUM TIMES visited three more schools across the state. In all of them, the principals asked for letters from the state Education Board before they can speak.

In Katsina State, Mariam Salele, the principal of Lami Abba Community Girls Secondary Science School, in Kofar Sauri, a district in the state capital, said 10 N-Teach volunteers were deployed to her school, ”and all are punctual.”

 

She showered the N-Power programme with praises, thanking the federal government for introducing the programme. Mrs Salele said: ”They (beneficiaries) are punctual, and enter their classes.”

Mrs Salele told PREMIUM TIMES that in the past, the government did not provide the school with enough teachers, leaving them to go source for their teachers.

”Before, we just had four teachers from the government, now the programme has helped us with ten N-Power volunteers in this school which they have been very helpful,” she said.

Hurdles, successes

One of the many hurdles characterising the N-Power programme is the lack of proper supervision by the federal government.

Experts say the federal government could have adopted the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) strategy whereby corps member would have to get a clearance paper from their various Place of Primary Assignments, (PPA), signed by their principal officers.

They would also have to take their papers to various local governments for biometric clearance. There every corp member has to present evidence that they attended their Community Development Service (CDS) before their names and state numbers are forwarded to the accounting department for payment.

In the N-Power programme, there is no such mechanism placed to check the volunteers before payday.

Despite the various irregularities that characterise the scheme, it also has some level of success.

For example, most of the schools PREMIUM TIMES interviewed said before the N-Power, they had never had an inter-house sports activities.

Similarly, the N-Power programme is undoubtedly the most successful means of employment. It was designed majorly for the poor.

Checks by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that the N-Power officials at the state level lack the adequate manpower and resources to help supervise and check the irregularities marring the process.

For instance, all the officials who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES complained of inadequate vehicles that would assist them in supervising.

The National Orientation Agency (NOA) helps the government to provide a level of supervision for the project but has its own unique challenges.

Manu Garcia, the NOA Yola North supervisor, told PREMIUM TIMES that ”the agency is aware that some of the beneficiaries are going to work while some are not going to work”.

“We did mapping out of N-Power programmes, across the LGA areas, we have submitted the form to the N-Power office,” Mrs Garcha said.

”There was one N-Power Teach volunteer I called, telling her that the school principal reported that she has not been going to school, she responded that she thought it was a monthly N30,000 stipend empowerment programme,” Junadu Abubakar, the N-Programme desk officer in Adamawa state, explained to PREMIUM TIMES.

Mr Abubakar urged the federal government to create a special team within the N-Power office to help supervise the scheme.

”There are schools that are in remote areas that cannot be located easily to supervise,” he said. ”We are only limited to the metropolitan and use their private resources to move around.”

Meanwhile, the N-Power coordinator at Kano State Secondary Schools Management Board, Abdurra’of Madaki, told PREMIUM TIMES that his office lacked the resources like vehicles to move to rural areas to monitor the volunteers.

“The ones that are deployed in the rural areas are still fair, they are punctual, but those that their place of primary assignment is located at the Kano city are not punctual,” Mr Madaki said.

He also lamented that he once enrolled some beneficiaries to a vocational programme ”just to keep them abreast in the labour market; in case the programme comes to an end to prevent over-dependence, but many refused to attend.”

The coordinator said he went further to get the beneficiaries identity cards as a means of identifying themselves in case to weed out impostors and for their security. but the attempt was rebuffed.

Beneficiaries speak

Most of the beneficiaries who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said they want their engagements made permanent.

Maharazu Abdullah, a 30-year-old HND holder, told PREMIUM TIMES he joined the scheme because he was jobless.

Mr Abdullahi, a father two, who teaches about 40 pupils at the Civic Education at Lami Abba Community Girls Secondary Science School, in the state capital, said he has been able to develop and expand his fish pond business from his monthly stipends.

”After I graduated from school and completed my NYSC in 2010, I was jobless,” he said. ”I was just managing a fish pond at small scale, but since I joined in 2016, I have been able to expand my business. Now I am a distributor. The programme has helped both my family and other relations.”

He urged the federal government to emply them as permanent staff and give them computer tablets. ”Whenever we ask for our tablets, they tell us to wait”.

Aliyu Abubakar, a graduate of Physics from Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto State teaches Physical Health Education in Mr Abuduliah’s school.

He told PREMIUM TIMES that since he joined the N-Power programme he has been able to purchase three hectares of land for his cultivation of beans and groundnuts.

”Before I joined the programme, I used to teach in a private school here in Katsina. I did not earn much, but now things are better.”

Ishaq Bugaje, studied Islamic Education from Bayero University Kano State. His place of primary assignment is located at Jibya local government in Katsina.

Mr Bugaje told PREMIUM TIMES he joined the programme in 2016.

He said before he joined, he was a tailor. ”Since I joined the scheme I have learned more things about agriculture and modern farming, the programme has changed my life. I have been able to visit communities and impact the lives of farmers in rural areas.”

Simon Abiraqkwa, the N- Agro desk officer in Adamawa state, told PREMIUM TIMES the state recruited 2,636 beneficiaries in 21 LGAs from different academic backgrounds.

”We train the N-Power Agro volunteers on the timing of planting, weeding, fertiliser application and encourage zero tillage and discourage mechanised farming.”

Mr Abiraqkwa further said after the training, the volunteers would disseminate the knowledge that had been aggregated.

”They have also been trained on how to use cloud application that they would use to gather data on local farmers.

“The information would contain location, age, and the cash crop they sell, and it would later be used as a data bank for government to access the farmer in order to purchase goods for the Home Grown Feeding programme.”

Achoda Akuma, a beneficiary from Yola South, said the only time she ‘absconded’ from work was in August last year when the FG did not pay them stipends.

“It was the period when I newly resumed work and the FG did not pay for about two month,” she explained.

Ms Akuma, who teaches Mathematics at Bambam Primary School in Yola South further said, “After I started receiving my money, I have been going.

“Although I cannot say I go regularly every week but I go at least three times a week.”

Another beneficiary, Glory Bulama, from Mubi South said she does not go to school regularly because where her PPA is located is far from where she lives.

Ms Bulama, who teaches English language at Ayiwa Primary School at Ayiwa town, Mubi South LGA said she spends N700 daily on transportation.

She also said she suffered miscarriage which has made it difficult for her to go to work “in the past few months”.

Asked if she informed the official’s about her health, she said, “No I did not, I think it is personal for me.”

Authorities keep mum

Afolabi Imoukhuede, the former Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Job Creation and Youth Employment, Office of the Vice President, the office directly in charge of the scheme, did not respond to calls and messages sent to his known telephone numbers.

Meanwhile, Tunde Ajileye, a finance expert and partner with SBM Intelligence, said there is need for more supervision by the authorities to ensure the programme’s success.

“The N-Power is essentially the NYSC without the structure plus checks and balances put in place to ensure people stay in their places of assignment found in the NYSC. In spite of those structures, people still abscond during NYSC, not to then talk of a poorly designed N-Power.

“Why has the N-Power, which was meant to be an intervention, been rolled over with beneficiaries continuing? Of course, because the work is ‘decoupled’ from value creation. They see it as free money” he said.

The coordinator, Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), Olanrewaju Suraju, also urged the federal government to strengthen its evaluation team who supervise the N-Power volunteers.

”What the N-Power are doing is a disservice to the nation,” Mr Suraju said. ”If such beneficiaries are getting paid but not discharging their expected responsibilities, it is a disservice to the nation.

”The N-Power should have monitoring/evaluation mechanism. I suspect that they do, they should remove such persons from the N-Power scheme and get serious people onboard,” he said.

Source: Premium Times Ng

Face-to-face with truth

Nigeria professes to be a representative democracy.  As we write, some figures put our population at 200 million.  So, we pride ourselves as being among the largest democracies in the world.  Since the different arms of government cannot contain 200 million people, we elect some of us to represent us in the legislature and the executive arm of government.  These representatives of the people have the obligation to consult and report to the people before they act in government.  This is what is termed ‘democracy’ – a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

But can we find truth in the governance of this country?  Is there truth in Aso Rock or in any of the state government houses?  Can it be found in any of the local governments?  Can it be said that there is truth in our country’s national assembly?  Is it not the case that those whom we elect to represent us take us for granted?  Those we hired to serve us have become our masters.  And they are despotic.

We are fed with a steady diet of lies. We are told lies during campaigns when candidates who are utterly unpatriotic and lacking in good character are packaged by campaign organizations and presented to Nigerians as God-sent.  As soon as they get into governance, they begin to break their campaign promises.  We were promised peace and prosperity.  But we are offered insecurity and poverty.  The length and breadth of our vast country is covered by a thick veil of injustice.

When you are citizen of a country where government has repeatedly demonstrated its insincerity, its readiness to tell lies and mix duplicity with insolence, it would be reckless to believe pretentious promises.   The honesty deficit of government in Nigeria is very high.  Promises of change have turned into change of promises.  This is a government that tells us Boko Haram is “technically defeated” while Boko Haram continues to kill our poorly equipped soldiers.

This is a government that writes off any other report concerning what happens here in Nigeria as false. Take for instance, reports on fulanisation, nepotism, daily blood bath across the country and so on.  This is a government bedeviled by a self-inflicted credibility crisis that it needs to address before it can accomplish anything meaningful and useful.  But its spokespersons prefer to indulge in insolence.  That is why this government cannot be engaged in any productive dialogue.  A democracy where there is no dialogue, where it is an offence to disagree with government policy, is a democracy that has lost its soul.

The latest act of injustice is the proposed and now “suspended” project of Ruga settlement.  It amounts to the height of duplicity for the Presidency to tell Nigerians that this is the solution to the problem of violent herdsmen.  We are dealing here with a strain of duplicity that is rendered more tragic by the arrogance of government spokespersons.

As has become the stock in trade of image makers at the Presidency, whoever disagrees with any policy of this government is treated with disdain.  And that is coming from a government that claims to have been democratically elected!  The statement that emanated from the Presidency on Sunday, June 30, 2019, rather than offer a credible explanation, served insolence on a plata.  It amounts to a gratuitous insult on the intelligence of those who know the history of this country to say: “Ruga settlement that seeks to settle migrant pastoral families, simply means rural settlement in which animal farmers, not just cattle herders, will be settled in an organised place with provision of necessary and adequate basic amenities such as schools, hospitals, road networks,

 vet clinics, markets and manufacturing entities that will process and add value to meats and animal products.”

This statement, widely reported in the dailies, is insensitive to our need to overcome suspicion in this country.  Our history, especially in the pre-colonial era, shows how such “settlements” for “migrant pastoral families” have been used to dispossess people of their ancestral land, used to disturb peaceful coexistence in our multiethnic country.  Have we not been told in recent memory that if we want peace we must give land to violent herdsmen? Why is it that a government that lays claims to democratic credentials would simply refuse to address the concerns of the people of Nigeria? Indeed, there is another name for this policy.  It is a “Your land or your life policy”

The fact that some state governors have accepted this Ruga settlement proposal does not necessarily mean they are acting in the interest of their people.  Who does not know that the political fortune of a state governor in Nigeria is tied to “loyalty” to federal might?  And who does not know that, when asked to make a choice between his political fortune and the good of the people of his state many a governor would chose the former?

When those who speak for a government said to be democratically elected insult those who hold dissenting opinions, it is not those who are insulted who are diminished.  It is the government that is diminished.  But while we expect insults from government spokespersons for writing this, we are reminded of the immortal words of Uthman dan Fodio: “Conscience is an open wound healed by truth.”  When shall truth be spoken by this government?
His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, wrote from Lagos.

Source: Guardian Ng

Nigeria Dominates Africa’s Most Inspiring Businesses’ Ranking

A list identifying and celebrating Africa’s most inspiring businesses is made of up of 97 Nigerian firms, which accounted for 27 per cent of the total, the highest among countries surveyed in the region.

The second edition of the ‘Companies to Inspire Africa’ report, which was launched in Lagos yesterday, was published by the London Stock Exchange Group with support from PwC and other partners.

Some of the Nigerian companies listed in the report included: Renmoney, Tizeti, Paystack, Olori Cosmetics, BudgIT Foundation, among others.

Country Senior Partner at PwC Nigeria, Uyi Akpata, said PwC was honoured and excited to partner with the LSE to identify companies on the continent who, despite difficult business climates, continue to thrive and deliver consistent growth.

“We reiterate our support to private companies and helping them create value,” Akpata said.

Co-Head Emerging Markets at LSE, Ibukun Adebayo, said the LSE compiled the list to put a spotlight on Africa’s private sector successes, present the listed companies additional investment opportunities and facilitate partnerships and collaborations.

 

Also, according to the LSE’s Chief Executive, David Schwimmer, “We publish this report as it is our belief that these firms, and high-growth firms like them, are crucial to the future of the African economy.”

Adebayo, noted that the firms listed in the first edition of the report have already started to see significant progress, pursuing IPOs, issuing bonds and expanding across borders.

British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Harriet Thompson, said the UK was committed to the success of the Nigerian – and in extension African – economy, thus its endorsement of the report.

The report was first announced in January, but has just been launched in Lagos.

There are 360 companies from 32 different African countries on the list. The companies boast an average compound annual growth rate of 46 percent. On average, each firm employs over 350 people, with an average compound annual employee growth rate of 25 percent.’

 

The list of companies cuts across several sectors. Customer Services, Industry and Agriculture were the three biggest ones, accounting for over 50 percent of the companies featured. Technology and Telecoms, and Financial Services together represent over 25 percent of firms, while Healthcare & Education and Renewable Energy also feature strongly.

About 23 per cent of the senior executives of the companies featured were female, a near doubling from 12 percent in the first edition.

The event was attended by the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun; Chief Executive of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Oscar Onyema; former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah and Executive Secretary at the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Yewande Sadiku.

In his keynote speech, Governor Abiodun highlighted the significance of the report, noting that it will stimulate more investment into Nigeria and Africa.

Source: This Day Live

NIESV Unveils Logo to Mark 50th Anniversary

The Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) have unveiled a new logo in commemoration of the institution’s 50th anniversary.

The unveiling which took place on Thursday at NICON Luxury Hotel Abuja was attended by members of the professional body from all parts of the country.

Speaking on the significance of the event, Estate Surveyor Roland Abonta, President Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers said the institution is unveiling their 50th anniversary logo for a whole year-long program that has just started. “The unveiling is part of the beginning of the celebration of our 50th anniversary which will last for one year,” he said.

On the contribution of the institution during its 50 years existence, Abonta said the body has recorded a lot of contributions.

He said, “For valuation, in the last 50 years of this nation, all private and public assets in this nation have been solely valued by professional estate surveyor and valuers. We have gotten involved in valuing the assets of NNPC, including the technical aspect, the plants and equipment of NNOC and the oil sector at large.

“We have also been involved in valuing buildings and other assets of federal and state governments. We have also been the ones managing the assets of the federation and individuals. We are the only known facility managers in Nigeria.

“In the area of housing our members have contributed immensely to bring to Nigerians the availability of houses and some of us have also contributed to developing houses in Nigeria. We have assisted government in policy formulation. For example, the national housing fund of 1992. We also help in the acquisition and payment of compensation.”

On the way forward for the institution, Abonta said that plans are ongoing to diversify the profession and improve their strategies for delivering their services; embracing ICT as hallmark for the services they render.

“We are also trying to nurture future generations of estate surveyors and valuers to sustain the legacy,” he added.

By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja

Why NOW is the time to buy a home: Housing affordability is now at the best level in 20 YEARS, expert claims

The Housing Industry Association acknowledged median property prices had surged by 228 per cent during the past two decades, a level that is more than double the 113 per cent increase in average earnings.

Despite that, the group’s senior economist Geordan Murray said Reserve Bank of Australia interest rate cuts in June and July had made servicing a home loan easier in 2019 than it was 20 years ago, with the cash rate now at a record low of one per cent.

‘For a home buyer with an average-income purchasing a median priced dwelling, mortgage repayments will consume the smallest proportion of their earnings since 1999,’ he said

His call may seem controversial, with many young people struggling to save up for a mortgage deposit.

Sydney’s median house price of $866,524 is more than 10 times an average Australian full-time salary of $83,500.

A borrower or a couple need to earn $150,000 a year, or 1.8 times an average wage, to afford a typical suburban house in Australia’s biggest city without being in mortgage stress, the HIA acknowledged.

Across Australia’s capital cities, median house and unit prices stand at $590,431, CoreLogic data shows, which is more than 10 times the national median income of $55,400.

Despite that, the HIA argued housing affordability across Australia’s eight capital cities and key regional areas was the best in 20 years based on lower rates.

With the official cash rate now at one per cent, borrowers are paying average standard variable rates of 4.6 per cent.

In 1999, borrowers were paying 6.7 per cent mortgage rates when the cash rate was five per cent.

The gap between the RBA cash rate and typical standard variable mortgage rates, however, has significantly widened from 1.7 percentage points to 3.6 percentage points.

Still, the HIA was optimistic of market conditions improving for first-home buyers.

Last week, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority dropped a requirement for lenders to model a borrower’s ability to pay off a 7.25 per cent mortgage rate.

During the election campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised the government would establish a $500million First Home Deposit Scheme whereby taxpayers would fund a 20 per cent deposit if borrowers stumped up five per cent.

Median house prices also fell in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin during the June quarter, CoreLogic data showed.

The HIA’s affordability measure showed homes were more accessible in every capital city during that time.

Darwin had the greatest affordability improvement of 4.8 per cent, followed by Melbourne (three per cent), Perth and Brisbane (2.6 per cent), Sydney and Canberra (2.4 per cent), Hobart (2.2 per cent) and Adelaide (one per cent).

Source: Daily Mail

Profitability of Nigerian Banks Under Threat—Fitch

Earlier this month, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directed deposit money banks operating in the country to ensure 60 percent of their deposits are offered as loans to customers or risk severe punishment.

The apex bank had explained that it was taking this step in order to propel the nation’s economy through lending to small business owners as lenders were in the habit of using their deposits to mop up government securities to boost their profits.

In 2016, Nigeria slipped into recession, which affected almost every parts of the economy except the banking sector, which churned out huge profits during the economic downturn, which lasted almost a year.

Though the Africa’s largest economy is out of recession, it is still struggling to regain full recovery and in order to make this happen, the CBN said banks have till September 2019 to raise their loan to deposit ratio to 60 percent or would have to deposit extra unremunerated cash reserves, equal to 50 percent of their lending shortfall, at the central bank.

Reacting to this new development, renowned global rating agency, Fitch Ratings, said this new requirement could have an adverse effect on the profitability of Nigerian banks.

In a report obtained by Business Post, Fitch said it would be credit-negative for the banking sector, because it would push some banks to significantly increase lending to riskier borrowers, potentially with looser underwriting or underpricing of risk.

“Achieving the new LDR requirement in such a short timescale will be very difficult for some banks given their lending levels, particularly if customer deposits continue to grow at present rates. The sector’s overall LDR was 57 percent at end-May, according to CBN data. This is low relative to many markets, and reflects banks’ concern about the risk to asset quality from Nigeria’s often volatile operating environment. Nigeria’s largest banks, with the exception of Access Bank, have LDRs below or close to 60 percent and will be among the most affected by the new requirement,” the rating firm noted.

According to Fitch, “It is unlikely that there is sufficient demand from good-quality borrowers for banks to meet the target without relaxing their underwriting or pricing standards. Banks continue to struggle with high impaired and other problem loans, which is partly the cause for muted lending since 2016. The present operating conditions are not conducive to loan growth, and rapid lending during the fragile economic recovery could increase asset-quality problems in the future.

“Chasing loan growth could also weaken banks’ profitability if they cut margins to attract customers, and because of the need to set aside expected credit loss provisions under IFRS 9 when loans are originated,” it posited.

The CBN is incentivising banks to focus on SME, retail, mortgage and consumer lending in particular, by assigning a weight of 150 percent to these segments when computing banks’ LDRs for the 60 percent target. The SME and retail segments tend to be riskier for banks, and Nigeria’s mortgage market is in its infancy.

It said despite the difficulty of sourcing rapid loan growth and the risks it entails, “We expect banks to make a big effort to achieve the 60 percent target given the severity of the penalty for missing it. Depositing cash at the central bank is highly unattractive for banks as they receive no interest on it, in stark contrast to the high yields they can earn by holding Nigerian T-bills and government bonds.

“We will monitor how lending develops in 3Q19 at the sector level and at individual banks. Fast loan growth, particularly relative to the market average, or other signs that a bank’s risk profile may be deteriorating, could lead to negative ratings actions.

“Asset quality and capitalisation are key rating sensitivities for Nigerian banks, and could deteriorate as a result of fast loan growth. Most Nigerian banks’ Issuer Default Ratings are constrained by the country’s operating environment and ‘B+’/Stable sovereign rating.

Source: Business Post Ng

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