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“CBN governor had not put enough plans in place to guarantee the success of the Naira swap” – Femi Falana

Femi Falana, a well-known human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, noted that the CBN governor had not implemented enough strategies to guarantee the policy’s success.

Falana in a message said, “Instead of preparing for the printing of new naira notes and distribution to the banks, Emefiele travelled out of the country. While he was away, the State Security Service declared him wanted for terrorism financing.

‘’In the absence of Emefiele, the members of the Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria had no information on the quantity of the new currency notes that had been printed.

“However, Emefiele returned to the country after a month and was alleged to have been shielded from arrest by some senior military officers. Emefiele, who claimed that he was on his annual vacation, has been battling to make the new currency notes available to members of the public.

The lawyer also accused the President of failing to learn from the naira policy he initiated in 1984.

Falana claims that Buhari, the country’s then-military head of state, destroyed the economy by changing the color of the naira and caused tremendous hardship.

“In 1984, the Buhari military junta changed the colour of the naira. In a country of 81 million people, bank customers and other citizens were given only two weeks to deposit old notes and replace them with new ones.

“The poor implementation of the policy caused untold hardships including loss of lives in many parts of the country,’’ he added.’’

Falana referred to the National Assembly’s inability to rein in the central bank’s excesses as ridiculous, noting that the Central Bank had disregarded all of the Assembly’s decisions and had been spending trillions of naira without authorization.

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Business

“The grace period and the 10 days are completely inadequate” – Ad hoc committee

The Ad hoc committee, led by Majority Leader of the House of Representatives Alhassan Ado Doguwa, was unimpressed by the new deadline and refused the extension, saying that the CBN must adhere to sections 20 sub 3, 4, and 5 of the CBN Act.

The ad hoc committee was established by the Lower House to investigate the matter during its meeting on last Tuesday.

In a statement released on Sunday, Doguwa expressed his dissatisfaction, saying, “The 10-day extension for the exchange of the old naira notes is not the solution. Only the clear conformity with section 20 sub-sections 3, 4, and 5 of the CBN Act would be acceptable to us as a legislative committee with a constitutional mandate from the House.

“Nigeria as a developing economy and a nascent democracy must respect the principle of the rule of law. And the House would go ahead to sign an arrest warrant to compel the CBN Governor to appear before the Ad hoc committee.”

He stated that the committee would continue working under his leadership until the needs of Nigerians were met in conformity with the law.

The extension, according to Doguwa, is merely a political ploy to further mislead Nigerians and aggravate their economic and social conditions. The CBN governor must appear before the committee or run the risk of being detained under the authority of parliamentary writs that the Speaker signed on Monday.

Additionally, he claimed that the course of action could scuttle the upcoming general elections.

“Security agencies and their operations especially at the state level are generally funded through cash advances and direct table payments of allowances to operatives during elections,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr. Muda Yusuf, used the same tone when describing the new deadline as being woefully inadequate.

He said, “The 10 days and the grace period is grossly inadequate. What’s the rush about?”

Additionally, he cautioned that the tight deadline would jeopardize a N100 trillion portion of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, notably in the trade and commerce and agricultural sectors.

The Nigerian Supreme Council for Shari’ah also protested the 10-day period at the time. The council decided that an extension of five months should be the appropriate time frame for exchanging old naira notes for new ones.

Nafi’u Baba-Ahmed, the secretary general of the Supreme Council for Shari’a in Nigeria, stated at a press conference on Sunday in Kaduna that a five-month extension would be ideal to accommodate rural residents without access to banks.

“We are in line with the National Assembly for five months for the old naira notes swap because people in the rural areas may have to travel. And There should be massive awareness of the naira swap,” he said.

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Business

City Power Spends R100 Million On Substation Security To Combat Theft, Vandalism

City Power in Johannesburg spends roughly R100 million a year to secure its substations and mini substations from vandalism and theft, according to spokesperson Keneilwe Sebola.

And the amount could triple if the security issues persist. In fact, the City could spend as much as R1 million a day on the replacement of damaged mini substations, she added.

Roodepoort in the dark
Sebola was speaking amid power supply issues in Roodepoort, one of Johannesburg’s oldest suburbs, brought about by what she called an “unusually high” amount of vandalism, cable theft, and ageing infrastructure.

Last week, nine out of 14 reported incidents of vandalism and theft at mini substations across Johannesburg took place in Roodepoort.

Mini substations can supply up to 100 customers or households with power and the loss of a mini substation can lead to neighborhood-wide blackouts.

The situation in the area is so bad that the Roodepoort service delivery centre general manager, Sibusiso Xulu, asked for the area to be exempted from load shedding between midnight and 04:00 – peak times for vandalism and cable theft – to minimise damage to mini substations and to allow breathing room for repairs. 

On 19 January, City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena urged Roodepoort residents to stay calm while City Power addressed the power issues.

Quota exceeded 
MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services Michael Sun said the recent increase in load shedding stages meant City Power was losing substations faster than they could repair or replace them.

When power is restored to mini substations after load shedding, they are at risk of blowing up, causing further damage to infrastructure and additional blackouts in the area.

It cost City Power about R200 million to replace more than 390 mini substations in the last 12 months, News24 previously reported.

And, due to the high amount of theft and vandalism, mini substation suppliers are struggling to keep up. 

Sun said:”We have recently been told by mini substation suppliers that City Power has exceeded its [mini substation] order quota up to 2026.

According to Sun, City Power approached power suppliers in Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Cape Town in 2022 to buy new mini substations to bolster supply in Johannesburg.

“We were told they were also out of stock and in the same situation,” he said. 

City Power now has a standing memorandum of understanding with mini substation suppliers. 

“They understand it is a dire situation,” Sun said. He explained that the memorandum prioritises the City’s mini substation needs and increases production allocated to City Power.

Additional security

While there are security patrols at substations, City Power is considering additional security to accompany technicians to substations.

This was after a City Power official was attacked at a site in December 2022, according to Sebola. 

Sun added that City Power was also looking at alternative methods of security for substations to protect them from vandals and thieves at an added cost of R100 000 to R200 000 per substation.

Another concern was that incidents were no longer limited to the dead of night.

A mini substation and its security cage opposite Trade Route Mall in Lenasia was recently stolen in broad daylight in a busy street. 

Meanwhile, Sebola said City Power was expecting a mini substation delivery by the end of Tuesday.

“This will hopefully allow the parts of the area to return to normal.” 

Residents are encouraged to report suspicious activity around mini substations to 011 490 7900 or to send a WhatsApp message to 083 579 4497.

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Business

Buhari: Lekki Port, Imota Rice Mill Will Provide 300,000 Jobs, Yield Economic Benefit Of Over $200bn

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the newly inaugurated Lekki Deep Sea Port and the Imota Rice Mill are projected to create more than 300,000 direct and indirect jobs, and generate economic benefits valued at well over 200 billion dollars.

The President spoke at a State Dinner in his honour on Monday night during his two-day official visit to Lagos State to commission landmark infrastructure projects undertaken by the State Government and the private sector, MRS Holdings Limited.

The President said these labour-intensive projects, which will contribute to job creation in the country, fit well with his Administration’s plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

He expressed delight that the alignment between Lagos State and the Federal Government, since 2015, has more than delivered the dividends of democracy for the good people of the State.

‘‘These projects commissioned today would not have happened without close collaboration between the Federal and Lagos State Governments, and the involvement of the private sector as well.

‘‘Indeed, our commitment to unleashing the full potential of Nigeria’s private sector should never be in doubt. Through various policies, legislation, and executive orders, we have worked very hard to facilitate private enterprise in Nigeria.

‘‘The results of this can be seen in the many thriving businesses across Lagos State, in manufacturing, oil and gas, creative industries, services, digital economy, and many more, creating tens of thousands of jobs and economic opportunities for Nigerians.

‘‘I have no doubt whatsoever that posterity will be kind to us on account of these landmark projects and successes.’’

President Buhari also listed the achievements of the Federal Government and support to Lagos State during his two terms in office, promising to work with unwavering vigour and commitment to fulfill the promises made to Nigerians, until the end of his administration.

‘‘I would like to start by thanking the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the good people of Lagos, for the colourful reception that my team and I received today on our arrival in the state.

‘‘Earlier today, it was my pleasure to commission the Lekki Deep Sea Port, and the Imota Rice Mill, two projects that are very much in line with our administration’s vision of economic diversification and food security.

‘‘The Lekki Deep Sea Port is driven by my vision to bequeath a legacy of poverty elimination through the provision of job-creating infrastructure. I placed all matters related to the operationalization of Lekki Deep Seaport on top priority by giving unalloyed backing to the Nigerian Ports Authority and it’s supervising ministry, the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

‘‘With the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement which we are signatory, the distinctive features of Lekki Deep Seaport such as full automation which positions it for quick cargo and vessel turn around will greatly enhance the competitiveness of Nigeria’s exports especially agro-allied products in the international marketplace, grow local jobs, increase FOREX inflow and position Nigeria to maximize the opportunities inherent in the AfCFTA Agreement.’’

The President described Bestaf Lubricant at MRS Holdings Company Limited, Apapa, earlier commissioned by him as a testament to the provision of enabling environment for private sector businesses to thrive.

He noted that the 200m litre lubricant plant, which covers the whole value chain of lubricants and is the first of its kind in West Africa, would prevent the importation of sub-standard products, stop capital flight, and contribute to the generation of foreign exchange for the country, through products exports.

‘‘This plant will go a long way in ensuring that the plants and machinery which are used in Nigeria, have extended life from the use of high-quality lubricants,’’ he said.

President Buhari, who is also scheduled to inaugurate the historic first Phase of the Blue Line of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit and the John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History on Tuesday, praised Lagos for maintaining its status as Nigeria’s economic nerve center and leading subnational economy in Africa.

‘‘It is also a place with which I am very familiar, having lived and served here for long periods during my military career.

‘‘I am therefore no stranger to the rich culture and remarkable hospitality for which Lagos and its people are famous. It is therefore always a pleasure for me to return to Lagos, and to see the remarkable changes taking place constantly.’’

Highlighting the Federal Government’s support for the growth and development of Lagos State, under his watch, the President said:
‘‘We have approved important fiscal waivers required to deliver on key infrastructure projects, including customs duties for BRT Buses, LAG-RIDE vehicles, as well as Rolling Stock for the Blue and Red Rail Lines.

‘‘Lagos was one of the pioneer beneficiaries of our Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, which has transformed the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway and will deliver a brand-new access road to the new Lekki Deep Sea Port.

‘‘Lagos has benefited from our Sukuk Bond projects – the nearby Ahmadu Bello Way being one of the major roads reconstructed using Sukuk funding.’’

In addition, the President said the Federal Government allocated the Right of Way of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway Line, for use by the Lagos Mass Rail Transit’s Red Line, while also extending substantial financial support to the State at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On other notable strides of this administration, the President said the Federal Government has handed over the International Airport Road to the Lagos State Government, for reconstruction while the ongoing redevelopment of the National Theatre, Iganmu is in partnership with Lagos State Government.

‘‘We have been very clear that our administration is one that will support and work with State Governments to achieve our mutually-held goal of laying a sustainable foundation for lasting progress and development in Nigeria.’

The President commended Governor Sanwo-Olu for the impressive projects and for keeping the electoral promises made to Lagosians.

‘‘You have been a true Ambassador of the progressive politics that defines our party, and which has been the guiding vision of my administration, from Day 1.

‘‘I also acknowledge the excellent work that you did, working closely with the Federal Government and other stakeholders, to protect Lagos State from the worst effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘‘There is so much for us to be proud of, that we have worked hand-in-hand to achieve. Equally, there is still so much ahead for us to collaborate on,’’ he said.

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Business

CBN reacts to new notes scarcity, added that there won’t be extension in the deadline.

The CBN has made a plea to the traders at the Abubakar Mahmud Gumi Market in Kaduna to make sure that the old naira notes are deposited at commercial banks as part of the ongoing sensitization campaign on new notes.

The deadline of January 31 would not be extended, the top bank emphasized.

Mohammed Abba, director of capacity development for the CBN, urged traders to move quickly and exchange their old naira notes for the new ones as he briefed journalists on the advantages of the new notes at the Central Market Motor Park in Kaduna on Saturday.

He also noted that the CBN would sanction errant commercial banks which refused to dispense the new naira notes through their ATMs or were found hoarding the notes.

“For now, I don’t think there is any possibility of changing or extending the January 31 deadline within which the old naira notes will cease as legal tender,” he added.

The CBN had promised to punish any commercial bank discovered hoarding the new naira notes during a number of programs, claiming that it had manufactured enough to distribute them to all of the banks in the nation.

The CBN Kano Branch Controller, Alhaji Umar Biu, stated that traders had the right to report any bank found either hoarding the new naira notes or charging customers before depositing their old naira notes last Thursday during a sensitization program on the new naira notes organized for traders at the Sabon Gari market in Kano.

“You have the right to report any bank found hoarding the new naira notes or refusing to collect your old naira notes before the 31st January 2023 deadline.

“No bank should refuse to collect the old naira notes until the deadline of 31st January 2023,” the branch controller said.

He claims that in an effort to prevent client favoritism, the central bank has instructed commercial banks to stop accepting payments in person.

He insisted that the deadline of January 31, 2023, was set in stone and said that all of the previous naira notes would stop being accepted as legal cash on that day.

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Business

Banks fight the scarcity of new naira ahead deadline

Bank Automated Teller Machines in Lagos, Abuja, and other regions of the country are still dispensing the old N1,000, N500, and N200 notes eight days before the Central Bank of Nigeria’s deadline of January 31 to stop making them legal money.

Despite assurances by the apex bank and depositing banks that Nigerians would start receiving the new naira notes via ATMs on various platforms, research as of Sunday revealed that many ATMs owned by the financial institutions were still dispensing the old notes.

Although some of the ATMs in Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, Osun, and Gombe, among other places, were found to be dispensing the new notes, it was found that banks were still stocking a sizable portion of their ATMs with the outdated notes, which the CBN plans to phase out in approximately a week.

Meanwhile, bank employees lamented the lack of new notes.

Under the condition of anonymity, the officials claimed that the development had made it difficult for them to completely adhere to the CBN directive regarding the requirement to load ATMs with new notes.

When questioned why Access Bank had not yet distributed enough new notes across its branch network, a source close to the bank responded that the bank had not yet received enough new notes to comply with the CBN’s instruction on the new note.

“The new currency is not enough for the bank to start dispensing; that is why they are still given the old currency.”

Another bank official claimed that the newly redesigned notes were scarce and added that no bank would intentionally disregard the CBN’s instruction.

He said, “The CBN has gone around our ATMs and found out that we are very compliant with their entire directive. No bank will hoard the new notes. CBN is going around and monitoring.  No bank would want to be caught flouting the rule. There is scarcity. If a bank’s ATM does not have the new notes, it means the bank does not have it.”

Also reacting to the scarcity, a top official of Zenith Bank said, “If the new currencies are exhausted from the ATMs, is it not better to fill the ATMs with old currencies so that people will have access to cash? It is still legal tender until the end of January. It is only when the branches have the new currencies that they can fill the ATMs will them.”

Banks were seen continuing to stock their ATMs with the outdated currency despite threats from the CBN to penalize disobedient banks.

Dr. Abdullahi Kure, a director at the CBN and the current managing director of NIRSAL Microfinance Bank, has previously stated that the CBN would investigate institutions that were discovered to be storing or diverting new notes while issuing old currency.

He said that there was enough cash on hand at the CBN to satisfy bank requests.

Kure stated that if banks were discovered to be issuing old notes via ATMs, the CBN would examine its “record to determine the quantity of new notes provided to banks.” Such banks would receive sanctions if we found any violations.

He advised Nigerians to exchange any old notes they have for new ones through recognized outlets.

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Business

FG hikes petrol price to N185 per litre

The petrol price has officially increased by 8.8% from N170 per liter to N185 per liter by the Federal Government.

Yesterday, the government ordered that the new price go into effect right away in a notice to fuel marketers.

A few gas stations affiliated with the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria MOMAN, were said to have already modified their pumps to comply with the new price rule, according to information obtained yesterday.

As a result, drivers who had been waiting in fuel lines for hours to get the product had heightened anxiety.

According to a source, the government sent an internal memo to all marketers, including the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

However, in response to the development, Mr. Chinedu Okonkwo, the President of the IPMAN, said in a statement to yesterday, “So I heard but we are waiting for the circular because without that we cannot do anything. Hopefully, by tomorrow (today) we will get a clearer picture.”

When informed that some significant oil marketers had changed their pump prices to reflect the new approved price, he responded, “Well, they can adapt as the product is now hard to get by, but with the new approved price, we hope to receive products so we can sell to consumers.”

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria’s (IPMAN) National Operations Controller, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, commented on the incident by saying that his members had continued to lift the product at N240 per litre.

However, the majority of independent gas stations in Lagos have raised their pump prices to N290 or more per litre.

However, the majority of IPMAN gas stations are out of petrol, which forces the ones that do have the product to charge outrageous prices.

According to Betsy Petrol, an independent market in Alimosho LGA, Lagos, they were actually selling the final quantity they had yesterday, according to Vanguard.

“I have pity for the Keke Marwa (commercial tricycle operators) and Okada (commercial motorcycle riders) who have been coming to the filing station in search of fuel. That is why I decided to open today and sell the little stock I have”.

To establish stability in the petroleum industry’s downstream sector, the federal government had previously finalized plans for the phased elimination of fuel subsidies beginning in April 2023.

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BusinessNews & Announcements

Peter Obi takes stand on CBN Governor, Emefiele’s ordeal, claims Emefiele is not the problem.

Peter Obi, the presidential candidate for the Labour Party, stated on Monday that removing Godwin Emefiele as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria will not solve the amount of fiscal rascality driving inflation and other economic problems.

He revealed this when delivering a speech at the Chatham House in London.

He claimed that even if Emefiele is fired, Nigeria’s problem with its currency will persist.

Peter Obi has supported Emefiele despite the economy’s obvious problems, which include high interest rates, an unstable foreign currency system, and growing inflation.

He said, “People are talking about the Central Bank Governor, first let me assure you that the CBN governor will maintain his independence, he will be respected.

“Again, it is not the problem of the person there. CBN has a role in monetary policy. Then, you have the fiscal ecosystem. It’s like you go to a football match and the person who is supposed to be playing a particular wing is no longer there.

“Replacing Godwin Emefiele and putting somebody else there, with that level of fiscal rascality, which is what is fuelling our inflation and our rate of exchange today… these are some of the things we need to cut”.

Emefiele reportedly returned to work after taking an annual break, according to a statement from the director of corporate communications for the top bank, Osita Nwanisobi.

In a statement issued by its spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, the Nigerian Secret Service, DSS, refuted a claim that Emefiele’s office had been invaded upon his return on Monday.

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BusinessNews & Announcements

Chevron fights Itsekiri leaders over N300 million legal costs

Rita Lori Ogbebor and other individuals have been sued by multinational oil company Chevron Nigeria Limited in a Warri courtroom for allegedly violating a consent judgment by trying to withdraw or transfer money from the Itsekiri Regional Development Committee, IRDC, account, which is held at one of the new generational banks.

Alero Tenumah, Aginejune Agbonekuya, Ebigbeyi Kennedy, Lori Omatie, Aburo Mene-Ejegi, Frank Aberuoluwa, Itse Orugbo, and Richard Omare are among the additional defendants who have joined the lawsuit as the second through tenth defendants, respectively.

The company claimed that the defendants withdrew N300 million from the IRDC’s bank account located in the bank in violation of the GMOU and the mandate and terms of the operation of the IRDC’s bank accounts, ostensibly as legal fees of the 1st – 7th and the 9th – 10th defendants, while relying on a consent judgment in EHC/20/2020.

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Business

Federal Government begins Electronic Transfer Levy Implementation.

The Electronic Transfer Levy is now being implemented by the federal government.

The rule was signed in August 2022 by Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, in accordance with Section 89A(3) of the Stamp Duties Act, Cap. S8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, as amended by the Finance Act of 2021.

The Electronic Money Transfer Levy described in the 2020 Finance Act is imposed, administered, collected, and remitted according to the regulation.

When money is sent electronically from an account with a balance of N10,000 or more to any bank or financial institution, a N50 fee is applied.

According to derivation, the EMT levy money is split between the federal government and the federal capital territory at 15%, the state governments at 50%, and the 774 local municipalities at 35%.

The levy would be applied at the rates set by the Central Bank of Nigeria for any equivalent of receipts made in foreign currencies (CBN).

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is designated by the regulation as the Levy’s administrator and is charged with verifying, collecting, and providing an account of the Levy.

Additionally, it requires receiving banks to gather and send funds to the FIRS the following business day or within 24 hours. If the customer has a bank account with the receiving bank, the receiving bank must deduct the levy from the account.

On Sunday, January 8, 2023, several Nigerians expressed concern on social media after discovering that their accounts had been debited in varied amounts.

They were unprepared for the debit because the charge was not mentioned in any media sources.

They contend that the fee will promote cash transactions and goes against the CBN’s cashless goal. The audit and tax consultancy firm KPMG praised the Finance Minister for putting the Levy in place.

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