NIGERIA:Obioma woos female investors to Cross River

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Read Time:3 Minute, 30 Second

There are limitless opportunities that exist for women entrepreneurs who are ready to leverage on the investment opportunities that exist in Cross River State,” said Obioma Liyel-Imoke, wife of the Cross River State Governor.

Obioma made this known recently at the very prestigious BWI Hilton in Maryland US when she gave her keynote address at the second annual WETATI (Women Empowered To Achieve The Impossible) conference and celebration.

The Wife of the Governor, who was bestowed with the WETATI Lifetime Achievement Award, spoke on Investment Opportunities for Women in Cross River State. She expressed delight at being given the opportunity to market Cross River State investment potentials using the very vibrant, dynamic and colourful WETATI platform.

“I am extremely delighted to stand before such a distinguished crowd made up of the crème de la crème of women across the world.

I am grateful to the WETATI team for putting together this great conference. I do sincerely hope and believe that the two days spent together,cross-fertilizing ideas towards seeking solutions to the myriads of problems facing women would indeed help in empowering women to do the impossible.”

According to her, Cross River State known as the nation’s paradise is investor friendly not only for its natural idyllic beauty but also for government’s role in taking pragmatic steps to creating an investor friendly climate.

“For investors in Cross River State, Government has created an enabling environment for businesses to thrive not just by putting in place infrastructure such as pipe-borne water, intricately planned road networks, electricity including 24/7 street lighting on all major roads in the urban areas, but also gives tax holidays to business start-ups as an incentive for more people especially women to establish new businesses.”

She listed some investment opportunities in the areas of tourism and entertainment, oil and gas, arts and craft, agriculture, health, infrastructural development, and a few others. Obioma also talked about investment opportunities in the state’s Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort, also known as West Africa’s largest business and leisure resort, encouraging women to take up retail spaces for their products.

“As in most parts of the world, women make up almost half of the total population of Cross River State. The women of Cross River are hardworking, strong in character, and very enterprising.  The Cross River State Government is conscious of the power that women wield and the need to cater for them.”

Also speaking at the conference, Kim Watson, Vice President, Pepco Corporation said that women are known to invest 90% of their income in their families, according to UN statistics.

“Therefore when you empower a woman, you break the cycles of poverty. There is rising evidence that societies are stronger with the empowerment of women.”

Margaret Dureke, founder and president of WETATI described WETATI as a holistic enterprise.

“It embraces and touches different facets- financial matters, poetry, art, politics, development, health education, and so on”.

In her welcome address, she noted change, challenges and sacrifice as key ingredients to realising dreams. “When you go into the annals of history of successful people who made an impact in the lives of others and left legacies, it is evident that they understood these principles.”

She encouraged women to push for change by embracing these principles in pursuit of their life ambitions or dreams.

“It is never too late to dream or re-ignite the ones you had before. It is only too late for those who give up. My hope is that by being here today, you will leave at the end of the program with your own ‘AHA’ moments that will allow you embrace the inevitable changes, challenges and sacrifices in your path to hew your own destiny in any aspect of your life that you desire change.”
In achieving the impossible, there is usually a price to be paid, Obioma concluded- a price of painstakingly asking, seeking and knocking.

“After doing all these, there is no way the doors will not be opened.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Labour faults divestments by IOCs

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Oil workers have criticized the recent spate of divestments in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry by International Oil Companies, IOCs, claiming that due process was not followed.

The workers argued that the pull out by some multinationals placed Nigerian workers at risks of losing their jobs, which will in turn; increase the level of unemployment in the labour market.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, insisted that all stakeholders should be carried along before such pull outs are concluded.

In an interview with the Vanguard, PENGASSAN President, Mr. Babatunde Ogun, said, “We are not saying that multinationals should not divest, but that the Federal government should screen the processes to protect workers in the oil industry, and by extension Nigerians. If they are to divest, due process must be followed.”

Ogun chided the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and its subsidiary, National Petroleum Investments Management Services, NAPIMS, for lack of proper supervision of these pull outs.

He, therefore, urged the National Assembly to investigate these divestments, particularly those of the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, and more recently, the planned pull out of the Brazilian oil major, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Petrobras, which has commenced moves to sell off its stake in some Nigerian oil blocks valued at N795 billion ($5 billion).

The sale of the oil blocks is expected to bring about an increase in the presence of Asian oil majors in Nigeria, following renewed interests in increasing their portfolios through the acquisition of additional production assets.

The company said that divesting from the Nigerian oil blocks will help it concentrate more on exploration activities in a vast deep sea region off the coast of Brazil known as the subsalt, believed to contain dozens of billions of barrels of high quality oil.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria Stock Market: Shares in electronic records are easier to trade – Bukar

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Read Time:10 Minute, 35 Second

Mr. Kyari Abba Bukar, is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Central Securities Clearing System Limited, CSCS. He succeeded Dr. Onyewuchi Asinobi, the pioneer MD/CEO of the company who retired in March, 2011 . Prior to joining CSCS, Bukar was the MD/CEO of Valucard Nigeria Plc where he engineered the company’s turn-around from a nil-profit-making entity to what could aptly be termed a highly profitable entity before his exit. In this interview with PETER EGWUATU, he spoke on issues affecting the company and Nigerian capital market:

Can you tell the investing public the level of dematerialisation in the stock market?

The CSCS has done nearly 300,000 dematerialisation of share certificate. You know dematerialisation is changing physical share certificate to an electronic record. In terms of percentages, we can say we have done close to between 70 and 75 percent of dematerialisation. There are about 14 to 15 percent of the investors’ share certificates in the capital market that need to be dematerialised.

Shares that are in dematerialised (electronic records) format are easier to sell and buy. It is safe to have your share certificate dematerialised. We will send you an alert for any transaction done in the stock market. This year, we are going to start educating the investing public on the benefit of dematerialisation through campaign. The SEC strongly believes in it and has been doing everything for investors to embrace it.

How has the use of technology impacted on your operation?

Technology is significant and necessary in our operation. Everything we do is driven by technology, so we don’t like to make noise about it. Nevertheless, we are working hard to have a robust technology. We want to adopt Straight True Processing (STP) machine, with no manual intervention. That is one of the key initiatives to a safe custodian. Already, we are partnering with stockbrokers on data exchange.

We have given them security token to work with. All these will boost our technology. We don’t play with technology because it is a key component of our business. Probably, in a year or so, many of the projects that we intend to have would have been kicked started and some may have been concluded.

The obvious among them is the upgrading or change of our system or technology platform so that we can actually be able to support the exchange with some of the initiatives that they have in introducing new products to the market.

Why is CSCS interested in dematerialising share certificate?

The reason for dematerialisation is that it reduces the risk of theft of physical share certificate. It also makes work efficient  through the use of computer and eliminate the risk of loss of share certificate, either as a result of fire or misplacement, among other factors.

Is there any plan in place to diversify your services?

Yes, we are still deliberating. We want to provide Value Added Services to our clients. There are some investors that are sophisticated and we are looking at ways to diversify the portfolio services. We are also articulating areas that CSCS can add more value to its clients.

The Board of CSCS will have to approve the implementation of any new business strategy that would position it as a highly innovative and globally respected clearing, settlement and depository CSD) entity. The new vision of the company is to be the globally respected and leading CSD in Africa and to create value by providing securities depository, clearing, settlement and other services driven by innovative technology and highly skilled work-force.

There is speculation that CSCS is planning to go into share registration business. Is it true or false?

CSCS is a sub-registrar. The CSCS is currently the clearing house for the stock market.  It clears and settles shares transactions in the capital market. The CSCS, which is the clearing house of the Nigerian stock market, has been operating a Central Securities Depository (CSD) for the capital market and digital data storage and retrieval system and related services.

Nevertheless, as part of our diversification strategy, we are still brainstorming on how we can render such service and the Board will have to ratify any management decision we reach. Also, if we must go into share registration, then it must be through a subsidiary. We have to establish a new outfit that will do such business.

Also, we need to seek regulatory approvals before we can do share registration business. Although details of the areas where the CSCS would focus on in addition to its CDS business are still being deliberated upon, there are  many areas the company can go into. It may be too early to say now but share registration business, for instance, is one of them.

How has the CSCS being since you joined it from ValueCard?

CSCS is an interesting one. There is room for improvement. For ValueCard, we found it in a dismal state and we left it in an excellent shape. The advice from my mother had always been: ‘Leave a place better than you found it’ or ‘leave the room better than you found it’. That was exactly what we did with ValuCard and now the opportunity to transform CSCS is also a significant one.

Number one, the entire capital market was undergoing a huge turmoil when I came in. You remember I  took over  from Mr. Emmanuel Ikazoboh, who was the interim head of the Exchange and also chairman of CSCS and was at the tail end of his winding down. The tsunami had hit the capital market and Arunma Oteh was only a little over one year old in SEC when I took over.

What is your reaction on Registrar imposing stock broking firm on investors?

In fact, I was misunderstood on this issue in terms of being quoted that the registrar unilaterally takes decision in the previous publication. What I meant is that it is the responsibility of the registrars to furnish us with details of shareholders account. It is the information that the registrar sent to us that we make use of when crediting the account of shareholders with a stock broking house.

What changes have you effected since you came on board?

A number of changes has taken place and I subscribe to the statements being made both by the SEC DG in the midst of transforming the entire industry and the new CEO of the Exchange, Mr. Oscar Onyema. Both of them are people with lots of pedigree.

These are, essentially, people I would love to associate myself with. So, it was an easy decision on my path to take up the challenge of transforming CSCS. Obviously, and historically speaking, there are a number of things that could have been done with an entity like the CSCS to make it a world-class organisation.

So, when I came in, I, basically, bench-marked all the processes, all the procedures of all the things we were doing, against global standards and principles by getting some consultants outside of this country who are very knowledgeable in that area and they basically benchmarked our processes against global best practices.

That gave us a very honest and candid view of how we are placed vis-à-vis what one could call the past. There are one, two and maybe three of the 23 benchmark areas where we scored better than average but very many of them. We still reached below average in many areas, which basically means that a lot of work is needed to transform CSCS.

In the area of corporate governance, how has the company fared?

We are addressing corporate governance issues. CSCS has now become a Plc rather than a limited liability company. If you are a limited liability company, you can only have a maximum of  50 shareholders and CSCS, even though it was a limited liability company, is, in reality, more than that.

It, technically, had vehicles where some of the shareholders belong to those vehicles. It was like 24 or 25 shareholders belong in those vehicles; and so it was like in reality for the sake of transparency and to have proper governance structure, it became better to transform it into Plc so that one can see all the shareholders that have the ownership of CSCS.

There is also the board decision to bring in independent directors. Internally, internal control, risk management and the re-organisation of the company are going on. In the process, obviously, there would be people that had to go or had to leave and the fact of the matter is that whenever you are transforming an organisation, those kinds of casualties happen. They come as a matter of fact because some might be a mismatch of skills and, in other cases, it might just be redundancy, meaning we may have too many hands doing the same thing and so on and so forth.

There is also a cultural transformation going on. We have a new vision, mission and core values for the company that has been articulated by the rank and file of employees and we are, basically, positioned to continue with that transformation.

How many shares did CSCS clear in 2012?

For year 2012, CSCS cleared and settled transactions valued at N658.72 billion against N634.92 billion year 2011 thereby bringing about a .7 percent increase in cleared and settled transactions in the year under review.

It is interesting to note that since 1997 to 2012, CSCS has cleared and settled transactions worth N16.97 trillion.

For year 2012, the volume of cleared and settled transactions recorded by CSCS stood at 89.18 billion units of shares as against 89.58 billion units of shares in year 2011, thereby bringing about a 0.4 percent decrease in the volume of cleared and settled transactions in the year under review. From 1997 to December 31, 2012, CSCS has cleared and settled a total of 1.65 trillion units of shares.

How many number of shareholders requested for share certificates in 2012?

During the year under review, 21 shareholders requested for share certificates as against 31 shareholders in the previous year thereby bringing about a -32.26% decrease in these requests for the year under review.

Since 1997 to December 31, 2012, only 13,387 shareholders have requested for their share certificates.

There are now over 4.9 million share holders in the CSCS System going by statistics gathered at the end of 2012 in comparison with over 4.88millionshareholders recorded in 2011. These new statistics clearly represent an increase of 1.47% in the number of shareholders who maintain accounts with the CSD.

How many shareholders made use of shares in CSCS Depository as collateral for loan in 2012?

168 shareholders used their shareholding in CSCS depository as collateral to obtain loan facilities from financial institutions in year 2012, thereby resulting in a decrease of 48 percent in comparison with  2011 figures of 324 shareholders .In summary, more than 18,916  shareholders have used their shares as collateral for loan since inception of CSCS till  year-end 2012.

Looking at IST, do you think it is effective enough to allay investors’ fears as against what was seen in the past?

Well, the IST initiative is a very good one. I think there is a debate on how to make it work more effectively because there seems to be conflict with the Federal High Court jurisdiction. Some lawyers will tell you that there is no reason to have a specilaised court; some others will tell you that there is reason for that. But there is a reason for all these for the simple fact that a case in Nigerian court can take ages.

In fact, some people joke that Nigerian court is not for justice, but injustice because of the length of time it takes to get justice. I think the idea of IST was to make sure that there is quick dispensation of justice such that investors that have complaints can will everything resolved immediately. I must also tell you that SEC is also working towards dispute resolution mechanism that will ensure that there is quick resolution of any issue investors may have that is creating problem for them.

Whether IST is made a specilaised court, or it is left the way they is now, or incorporated into the federal High Court system, there is need to have a court that can fast-track investors’ complaints and resolve them very quickly. I think that is what makes IST very relevant.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: CBN may sell N410bn worth of bonds in 2013 Q2

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Read Time:1 Minute, 30 Second

The Debt Management Office (DMO) says the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may sell as much as N410 billion worth of bonds during the second quarter of this year.

The DMO disclosed this in its provisional calendar published on the Website.

It said that bond sales for the quarter would open on April 17.

According to DMO, the bonds to be sold in April will include N25 billion to N45 billion bonds each of seven-year, 10-year and 20-year tenor.

It said that the bonds were expected to mature in June 2019, January 2022 and July 2030 with coupon rate of 16 per cent, 16.39 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

The DMO also said that it would on May15 issue another set of three bonds which will include N25 billion to N45 billion bonds of five-year bonds.

Others are N10 billion to N20 billion bonds of five-year tenor and seven-year tenor bonds of between N20 billion and N30 billion.

The DMO also said that the N25 billion to N45 billion bond of five-year tenor would mature in April 2017 at 15.10 per cent yield rate.

The N10 billion to N20 billion bonds at four per cent yield rate will mature in April 2015.

The seven-year tenor bonds of between N20 billion and N30 billion with 16 per cent yield rate will mature in June 2019.

The DMO said that the sales for the quarter would end on June 12 with the sale of N25 billion to N45 billion each of five-year debt to mature on 2017 with coupon rate of 5.10 per cent.

The DMO said that it would also offer another five-year tenor bonds on June 12 with coupon rate of four per cent.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Airtel introduces ‘WhatsApp’ data service

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Read Time:1 Minute, 28 Second

In line with its commitment to offering best telecoms experience to Nigerians, leading telecoms services provider, Airtel Nigeria has introduced “WhatsApp” data application packages to its subscribers.

This follows a cross-promotion agreement with “WhatsApp Inc.” that secured for Airtel Nigeria the exclusive right to launch “WhatsApp” packages in Nigeria.

To access the Airtel “WhatsApp” bundle, customers are to dial *948# at N100/month to enjoy the service exclusively on Airtel platform.

Speaking on the new offer, Olu Akanmu, the Chief Marketing Officer of Airtel Nigeria, described the “WhatsApp” data bundle service as the first of its kind in the country. He said that it would provide great a channel to connect Nigerian youths to their friends with unlimited access.

According to him, the new package, which is available to all prepaid subscribers, attracts no deductions from the user’s data bundle or airtime balance.

“Coming at a time when we are about to start Mobile Number Portability in Nigeria, and with our robust 3.75g broadband strength spread over 180 cities across the country, our customers have just been handed another winner in our collection of bespoke data services through WhatsApp.

We shall continue to push harder to realize our vision of becoming the most loved brand in the daily lives of Nigerians”.

Customers who activate data bundles of 200MB or more can also enjoy unlimited access to “WhatsApp” without having to pay for the value-added service.

“WhatsApp” is considered one of the most popular mobile applications worldwide, owned by “WhatsApp Inc.” The application allows instant chat features, file & location sharing and more via smart phones through the Internet.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: NAFDAC nabs fake wine manufacturers, others

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Read Time:1 Minute, 42 Second

THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, has arrested two manufacturers of fake Red Label Whiskey and Carlo Rossi Wine in Lagos.

To this end, the agency has requested the deployment of more security officers to NAFDAC as part of strategies to step up enforcement activities and ensure that all counterfeiters were prosecuted accordingly.

Briefing journalists on activities of the agency, yesterday, in Lagos, Director General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii, said the suspects, Mr. Kingsley Okoro and Mr. Fred Nwafor, were also found to be in possession of fake Johny Walker wishkey.

He further disclosed that the suspects had confessed to the crime and the products found witht them  will be subjected  to laboratory analysis.

Orhii also hinted that in the course of investigations, the supplier of the packaging materials, Mr. Ileazor Okoro, was also arrested and is currently being interrogated.

Similarly, the director-general also announced the seizure of four trucks carrying suspected fake regulated products along Lagos-Badagry Expressway.

Upon examination, three of the trucks were found to contain 3,547 cartons of Mcdowell Reserved Whiskey belonging to Ejulo Investment Limited while the fourth truck was found to contain 3,300 Gino Tomato Paste, belonging to Mr. Tochukwu Eze.

However, the products, which were illegally imported, have been evacuated into NAFDAC warehouse. Their owners were arrested and being interrogated while the products were being sampled against them for laboratory analysis.

Other arrests Orhii disclosed include the arrest of one Mr. Maduabuchi Abuzu who is alleged to be a syndicate in China that specialises in importing counterfeit medicines to Nigeria. Abuzu was said to have illegally imported fake medicines valued at is N19, 522,500.

Speaking on what informed the Agency to step up enforcement activities; Orhii said that time for preaching was over. “We are now in the era of arrests and prosecutions. We will not fail to wield the big stick on any counterfeiter that is caught. We will ensue that they are severely dealt with,” he said.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: Community halts Shell gas project

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Read Time:2 Minute, 5 Second

The people of Otumara Community, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State, have asked the Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, SPDC, to halt a proposed gas plant project in the area, or, on the alternative, give them adequate compensation to relocate, before the company can go ahead to site its proposed gas plant in the area.

The people of the community who spoke through their Chairman, Mr James Edun, Spokesman, Pastor Alade Omaejile, Women Leader, Mrs Grace Odogene and P.R.O., Pastor Weyimi Fuludu, are requesting Shell Petroleum Development Company to pay a minimum of N25,000 per meter square, instead of N4,500, which the Company has proposed to pay them to vacate their residents which would be demolished to serve as site for the proposed gas plant which SPDC intends to site in the Community.

They have called on the company to follow the example of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, the Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission, DESOPADEC and the Delta State Government, that pay up to N120,000 per square meter to owners of properties usually demolished in construction sites, and said unless SPDC makes adequate compensation which would be enough for them to build another befitting homes for themselves, they would not vacate the community for the proposed gas plant to commence.

It would be recalled that SPDC, in year 2000, proposed to site a gas plant in Otumara Community. Consequent upon the development, the company forwarded an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the Federal Ministry of Environment for approval.

Reacting to the EIA, copies which were made available to the press, the people of the community have alleged that SPDC, contrary to Article 11 Section 2 of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, of the United Nations, the company omitted “social, economic, physical, biological and hydrological impact which the gas project shall place on the immediate Otumara Community, and which avail the people of their rights to adequate compensation, an act which the people of the community have accused SPDC of deliberate witch-hunting”.

They also alleged that SPDC recently approached them to relocate, following approval of the EIA, by the Federal Government, “with the intention to pay them a token compensation of N4,500 per meter square for properties to be demolished, which the community rejected”, insisting they must be paid N25,000 per meter square which is adequate for them to build another homes for themselves.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria: CBN, stop illegal, excessive bank charges

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Read Time:4 Minute, 24 Second

THE recent outcry by bank customers over arbitrary charges across the country should move the Central Bank of Nigeria to take strong measures against financial institutions that continue to fleece customers. Not only have some banks simply failed to comply with the November 2012 resolution of the Bankers’ Committee to halt charges on inter-bank Automated Teller Machine transactions, a number of those that have are reported to have imposed new fees to make up for the lost revenue from that area. But high transaction costs and opaque billings need to be addressed to encourage savings and deposits in an economy widely acknowledged to be grossly under-banked.

The complaints against the deposit money banks are varied – from simple over-charging to arbitrary fees and charges for services never rendered. Customers have reported high fees on routine transactions; fees for transactions they never undertook; multiple charges for a single transaction and charges imposed but never communicated to the account holder. Many customers know of certain charges only when they request detailed statements of their account.

Despite regular sanctions and new rules rolled out by the CBN from time to time, the banks often insist that they only charge in line with global practices, pre-arranged or statutorily approved regulations. There is truly no “free banking” worldwide and in most jurisdictions, you pay fees even when you keep your account in credit. In developed and well regulated jurisdictions, the authorities are constantly alert to new forms of exploitation of the consumer. In the United States and the United Kingdom, the customer attracts high fees only when he overdraws on his credit ceiling using a debit card or on an overdraft or when it involves foreign transactions. Otherwise, bank charges or transaction fees – all charges and fees mostly in respect of current accounts – are usually low.

The CBN should have the capacity and the will to enforce its rules, especially on transaction charges, and to punish those who circumvent them. When in November 2012, the Bankers’ Committee – the forum of bank CEOs and the CBN management – unanimously agreed to halt the N100 charge per transaction on inter-bank ATM usage, was it agreed that the banks be allowed to subsequently recoup by new charges such as the N100 monthly “card maintenance fee” imposed from last month by First Bank? Customers were not mollified by the FBN statement that the N100 would cover all transactions for cash within the month. Other banks have been charging similar card maintenance fees even when the N100 charge per inter-bank ATM transaction was in place. In the UK, monthly or daily maintenance charges are imposed mainly when a customer takes an unauthorised overdraft.

The apex bank should streamline transaction charges and ensure that banks stick to globally accepted fees that include stopping a cheque, obtaining a bank draft, statements, banker’s draft, reference and payments made or received from abroad. More importantly, customers know beforehand the rates and conditions of transactions. Here, many bank customers have been confronted with charges they were not adequately prepared for. Banks should endeavour at all times to give customers full details of all charges, rates and fees at the point of opening an account or making a transaction. 

There is a need also to develop other arms of the financial sector such as savings and loans, and cooperative and thrift institutions, to give customers a wider range of choice. When in September 2011, some large American banks introduced debit card fees, within a few months, 650,000 depositors moved their accounts to credit unions, as cooperatives are called in the US.

The CBN should make good its recent promise to strengthen its consumer protection unit to end what it called the “crisis of confidence” between Nigerian banks and their customers. It should follow up on its commendable recovery and refund of N5 billion wrongfully taken from customers last year by scrutinising dormant accounts that are fetching the banks billions of naira each year and on unauthorised deductions on behalf of banks’ sister companies. There is, said the bank, “a clear indication of customer dissatisfaction with the quality of services and charges in the Nigerian banking system.”

Reports by Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access, a non-profit organisation, in 2010 said only 21 per cent of Nigerian adults have bank accounts with about 130 million people having none. Excessive and indefensible charges discourage many from using the banks and keep our economy cash-based despite spirited efforts by the CBN to reverse the trend.

Account holders, too, have a role to play. They should always ask for their transaction statements at regular intervals and seek clarifications on everything they don’t understand; use the websites and help lines/enquiries desk of banks to find out about all charges and fees before undertaking any transaction or opening an account.

We need strong consumer protection lobbies to engage bankers, regulators and customers. The National Assembly should take a stronger interest in the banks as other parliaments around the world are doing to ensure that we have a banking sector that can instil confidence, attract savings and stimulate the productive sector of the economy. 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Easter Celebration in Nigeria: Prices of goods still normal

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Read Time:5 Minute, 32 Second

All over the world, fes-tive periods are al-ways times to look forward to… activities like shopping for new dresses, shoes, food items and other goodies. At these periods, traders usually make a lot of sales;consequently  prices of goods and services witness a rise too.

But as there are different festive periods like Christmas celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ,New Year and Eid-el-kabir so also the level of preparation by especially Christians and Moslems respectively.

For instance, it has been discovered that faithfuls of the two popular religions: Christianity and Islam usually take the celebrations of Christmas, New Year and Eid-el-kabir more seriously than any other like the Easter,hence the prices of goods and services usually sky rocket. Even traders get more patronages at Christmas, New Year and Eid-el-Kabir than during Easter.

No wonder this  Easter, a time when one would have expected to see Nigerians trooping to the market, expecting a hike in prices of goods and services, increased market activities and sales, everything appears ‘ dry’  and normal. Activities at markets across the country are still business as usual with little or no difference to show that Easter is here. There seems to be calm everywhere with the absence of the normal hustling and bustling which usually characterize the festive periods.

However, tracing the history of Easter celebration before 2013, observations were made that Christians used to celebrate it in a bigger way in the past. As a matter of fact, it was perceived that Christians and Muslims in Nigeria have generally dwindled their approach to the celebration of festivals. Why is there a low spirit towards this year’s Easter?  Why are children not getting new dresses and shoes at this time? And why are traders not smiling to the banks?

Some Nigerians have blamed the cause of the low disposition towards this year’s Easter celebration on the poor economic situation in the country.

Obinna, 47, a trader, thinks the economic situation in the country has gone so bad that the masses can no longer afford three square meals. He then reach conclusions that if Nigerians can’t afford to feed well, why will they remember to celebrate festive periods? Obinna then had a nostalgia to the era when Nigeria still had almost everything going for her. He remembered a time, back in his village, Umueze in ImoState, when as a child, his parents would have started the preparation for Easter three days to the D-day.

“I will say that the situation in the country, economic wise is really bad. In fact, it’s worse than in the olden days when we were younger and our parents would have started preparing for Easter three days before Easter. Things were much easier  then, not now that Nigerians can’t even afford a three-square meal. How  can a hungry man who is still thinking of how to survive remember that a festive period? Jonathan should do something about this before Nigerians become a set of boring people who don’t even know how to unwind and celebrate.”

Daleko Market situated around Papa-Ajao, Mushin, is known for it’s specialization on food items like rice, beans, garri and groundnut/palm oil. Traders who were opportuned to secure shops in this densely populated area enjoy massive patronage as buyers from within and outside it’s environs troop in all day to buy stuffs in larger quantities. Traders in Daleko especially get more buyers as the market has been known to sell raw food items at cheaper prices than others who sell at nearby markets like Mushin ,Ojuwoye and even Oshodi markets.

When our reporter visited Daleko Market to witness buying and selling activities at this Easter period, it was a shock to see that some sellers were bored.Eid-el-kabir. Some could even afford to leave their shops to a different location at a time when all hands ought to be on deck. Buyers just strolled into the market like every normal day, no rush, no noticeable increase in the number of buyers, just the normal “customer come and buy” slogan.

Approaching a rice seller simply identified as Mama Tawa, she complained of a normal sale with no increase in prices of goods. For instance, a bag of rice which sold between ten thousand to twelve thousand naira depending on quality still remains the same.

At Mushin Market, items like fresh tomatoes and pepper, onions seem to have flooded the market with sellers almost forcing and dragging buyers for patronage.

“Nothing special about this period o! In fact, I don’t think Christians take Easter serious again,” a tomato and pepper seller told the reporter as she hurried to attend to a customer approaching.

Meat, fish and Turkey sellers are not left out in the struggle as they dish out patronage calls to buyers who flocked the market in good numbers as usual. The only difference is that 1kg of Turkey which sold  for N700 now goes for N750. Yet, buyers seemed to be undaunted by the huge status-difference between Turkey and fish, as most prefer to go for iced fishes.

Another site to behold as market activities went on at Ojuwoye Market, was that buyers who would normally have opted for unsmashed tomatoes now rush the smashed ones. A conversation which went on between a pepper seller, Mama Tobi and one of her usual customers whom she later described as a banker was one to behold. The banker who was decked in a well cut  blue jeans and blouse with slippers to match came for the usual day’s ‘ game’. But when she approached Mama Tobi to purchase some pepper and tomatoes, it wasn’t business as usual for the seller who was already smiling at her dedicated customer from afar. “Ah, customer, welcome! How work nah(how is work?)” “Fine o,” the banker replied. “Make I sell your usual(should I package your usual demand)?”, Mama Tobi asked enthusiastically.

The banker settled for smashed tomatoes instead of her usual.

Trying to know why the banker lady had gone for the inferior tomatoes instead of her usual, Mama Tobi quickly summed, “this Easter no pay at all. It’s like there’s no money in the country at the moment. You sure say Nigerians even remember Easter at all?”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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BRICS Approve Currency Fund as Bank Start-Up Stalls

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Read Time:4 Minute, 12 Second

Leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa approved a $100 billion fund to combat currency crises, while failing to reach agreement on financing for a development bank.

China may provide the bulk of the funding for the foreign- currency pool, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in an interview today in Durban, South Africa. Negotiators are considering proposals for China to contribute $41 billion, Brazil, Russia and India to provide $18 billion each and South Africa $5 billion, he said.

“The establishment of a self-managed contingent reserve arrangement would have a positive precautionary effect, help BRICS countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures, provide mutual support and further strengthen financial stability,” South African President Jacob Zuma said after leaders from the five nations met in Durban.

The BRICS countries, which have 43 percent of the world’s population and total foreign-currency reserves of $4.4 trillion, are seeking greater financial sway to match their rising economic power.

Emerging markets from Brazil to Turkey have been hit by currency swings as interest rates near zero in the U.S., Japan and Europe fueled foreign investors’ appetite for higher- yielding assets. Brazil’s real has gained 1.9 percent against the dollar this year, while South Africa’s rand has slumped 8.8 percent.

Asia Fund

Officials didn’t provide details today on how the currency fund will operate. In October, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said the pool will be modeled on the Chiang Mai Initiative, which gives Japan, China, South Korea and 10 southeast Asian nations access to $240 billion of emergency liquidity to shield the region from global financial shocks.

While leaders agreed that a development bank was “feasible and viable,” they failed to provide detail on how it would be funded. The BRICS nations have been studying the viability of the bank for a year. In the run-up to the summit, officials from Brazil and Russia indicated each country could contribute $10 billion.

“We have reached broad consensus,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the summit closing. The agreement on the banks and currency reserve arrangement “will further unlock potential cooperation. BRICS cooperation will help stabilize global economic governance.”

Substitute Funds

India proposed the bank a year ago amid criticism from developing nations that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund aren’t doing enough to address underdevelopment and Western nations have too much say over their management.

Any new institution is unlikely to achieve much in the near term, said Andrew Kenningham, an economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in London.

“It will not be easy to reach agreement on the bank’s capital contributions and governance structure,” he said in e- mailed comments yesterday. “If and when it gets up and running, it may simply duplicate or substitute for funds led by the Chinese Development Bank.”

Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O’Neill coined the BRIC term in 2001 to describe the four emerging powers he estimated would equal the U.S. in joint economic output by 2020. Brazil, Russia, India and China held their first summit four years ago and invited South Africa to join their ranks in December 2010.

Foreign Inflows

Trade within the group surged to $282 billion last year from $27 billion in 2002 and may reach $500 billion by 2015, according to data from Brazil’s government. Foreign direct investment into the nations reached $263 billion last year, accounting for 20 percent of global foreign direct investment flows, up from 6 percent in 2000, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said on its website March 25.

Views differed among BRICS representatives on the total capital for the development bank, with India favoring $50 billion, South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told reporters in Durban. There also wasn’t agreement on voting rights and the share structure, he said.

“A bank like this isn’t established overnight,” Gordhan said. “The fact that in one year you can initiate an idea and get it to a point where you’ve got five different countries saying let’s establish it and having established its feasibility and viability is phenomenal progress which you rarely see around the world.”

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was more circumspect about the bank, saying it will take some time before it’s created.

“We don’t have disagreements, we have different approaches,” he told reporters in Durban. “It is early to take a formal decision to create the bank now. The devil is always in the detail.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net; Arnaldo Galvao in Brasilia Newsroom at agalvao1@bloomberg.net; Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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