The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Saturday in Enugu assured Nigerians that the country would be out of the current economic recession soon, while also urging Nigerians to take advantage of the numerous policies, initiatives and programmes packaged by the bank to cushion the effects of the biting economic recession in the country.
Speaking at the bank’s fair organised for small and medium scale enterprises, artisan, farmers, banks, hairdressers, barbers, shoemakers and other business groups in Enugu, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications of CBN, Isaac Okoroafor said the bank was aware of the prevailing economic condition in the country and added that the situation would not last long.
“Though we are in trouble, it is just for a while. As fast as we can, let us re-adjust ourselves so we can get out of the present situation. First of all, what is recession? Recession simply put, is a period of dwindling economic realities. Incomes are falling and government’s revenue is dwindling. Unemployment is increasing because businesses are not the way they should be. They sack workers because income is shrinking.
“People are not spending especially in our case, because oil prices have collapsed and foreign exchange receipts have dried up; falling from $3.2 billion to less than $500 million a month. With this kind of situation, Nigerians should try to adjust themselves. This is the real change. We need to change our ways to the realisation of a new troubling situation which is that it is no longer business as usual. Nigerians should learn how to save the little they have, so they can use it over time.
“Nigerians should begin to eat what we produce and not to look for expensive dollars to import food. We should go back to corn, yam and made in Nigeria Rice. Let us produce toothpick and not import it from China. We should not import 20 million eggs from South Africa. We should stop importing chicken when we have them here. Nigeria should brace up. This is not 100 metre marathon. Let us brace up and change our ways. The most hit now are people who have refused to realise that we ought to eat what we produce,” he said.
On the policies packaged by the bank with capacity to cushion the effects of the economic challenge, Okoroafor said 60% of MSME development fund was meant for women and women owned enterprises noting that some have collected as much as N1 billion and N2 billion and they retail to registered co-operative members in those states in bits. Some states elected to pay the interest which is not more than 9% on behalf of the beneficiaries. That is a lot of guarantee and some are recording huge successes. We also have the commercial Agric Credit Scheme (CACS) for larger commercial farmers. We are for everybody.
“One of the greatest highlights this time is the youth entrepreneurship programme and that programme is for corps members who are either in service or have finished service in the last 5 years.
“This is how it works. If you are a serving corps member and you want to get into business, you can get as much as N3 million to start as an entrepreneur. What happens is that you are not required to provide any collateral because we discovered that collateral is the problem. Your degree or HND certificate will serve as your collateral because we know it is an asset in which you have made investment. So just surrender it and that is all.
“If you have finished up to 5 years ago, you can submit your NYSC and Degree or HND certificate and then you can take a loan. But before you do that, you have to make us a proposal. Let us know the kind of business you are doing. If we feel it is feasible, we invite and train you for 3 days and make you understand the intricacies of the business and to put your plan very well. After which we link you up with a bank. That is what we do,” he said.
The bank cited its N220 billion fund made available for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), which it said could be easily accessed.
On other policies already introduced by the bank to help stabilise the nation’s economy, Okoroafor said the decision of the bank to release a list of 41 items that Nigeria out to stop importing to the country was borne out of a genuine desire to take the nation’s economy to the next level.
“Look at rice for instance, 28 out of 36 states in Nigeria can produce rice and so, we have launched a programme on rice called Anchor Borrowers Programme. It is not just on rice but also on tomatoes palm produce etc.
“What we are saying is this: Come to us with your proposal. If you cannot stand alone with your collateral, form yourselves into cooperative and we are ready to work with you and state governments like we are working with Kebbi which is giving Nigeria 1 million tons of rice this year and remember this year, the Nation needs 6.1 million tons.
“If Kebbi State at its pilot stage can give us 1 million tons, Ebonyi is involved, Anambra, Cross-river, Benue, Zamfara and so on. They are all showing interest. If our farmers can be given finance like we have done to Kebbi State, Nigeria should be expecting rice in two years’ time,” he said.
Lafarge Africa Board Proposes N30.60bn Dividend, Lower Than Previous Year
Lafarge Africa’s Board of Directors has recommended a dividend payout of N30.60 billion for the year ended December 2023, a reduction from the previous year’s dividend.
The proposed dividend translates to N1.90 per unit of shares and awaits approval from shareholders at the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the company.
In a corporate announcement filed with the Nigerian Exchange Limited, Lafarge Africa disclosed that the proposed dividend is payable from the Pioneer Reserve to shareholders registered as of March 28, 2024.
Despite the lower dividend proposal, Lafarge Africa recorded an increase in revenue to N405 billion, marking an 8.6% rise from the previous year’s N373 billion.
However, the company’s post-tax profit experienced a 4.7% decline, amounting to N51.14 billion, attributed mainly to the devaluation of the naira.
Lolu Alade-Akinyemi, the Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge Africa, expressed confidence in the company’s performance despite economic challenges.
He highlighted the growth in revenue and an improved operating margin, despite pressures from inflation and currency devaluation.
Looking forward, Lafarge Africa remains optimistic about the construction sector’s growth in Nigeria, despite prevailing economic challenges.
The company aims to leverage its market opportunities while maintaining a focus on sustainability and stakeholder value.
South African Billionaire Christo Wiese Predicts Return of Major Players to Nigeria Despite Recent Exodus
South African billionaire Christo Wiese remains optimistic about Nigeria’s economic prospects, predicting the eventual return of major players despite a recent exodus from the West African nation.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Wiese explained that it is impossible to ignore Nigeria’s large and growing population, “how do you ignore an economy like this?”
Wiese, the former chairman of Shoprite Holdings Ltd., acknowledges the challenges faced by businesses in Nigeria, where recent currency woes and policy missteps have contributed to an exodus of international companies.
Procter & Gamble Co. and Shoprite are among the global conglomerates that have announced their departure from Africa’s most populous nation.
However, Wiese sees the recent exits as temporary setbacks rather than a long-term trend. He believes that the allure of Nigeria’s vast consumer market and its economic potential will eventually draw major players back.
Despite the current uncertainty, Wiese remains confident in Nigeria’s future, emphasizing the need for governments to adopt correct policies and for investors to exercise patience.
While acknowledging Nigeria’s single-commodity economy vulnerabilities, Wiese highlights the resilience of the nation’s economy and its potential for growth and development.
He suggests that foreign investors, including South African ones, are adopting a wait-and-see approach, anticipating a time when the economy stabilizes and favorable policies are in place.
Seplat Energy Names Udoma Udo Udoma as Independent Non-Executive Chairman, Bello Rabiu as Senior Independent Non-Executive Director
Seplat Energy, a prominent Nigerian energy company listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited and the London Stock Exchange, has made significant changes to its board leadership.
In a recent announcement, the company revealed that Udoma Udo Udoma has been appointed as the new Independent Non-Executive Chairman, succeeding Basil Omiyi, who is set to retire on March 31, 2024.
Udoma Udo Udoma, a distinguished lawyer and seasoned board administrator, brings a wealth of experience to Seplat Energy.
He holds degrees from St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, and has had a remarkable career spanning various sectors, including petroleum, energy, and natural resources.
Udoma has served on numerous large-sized company boards, including UAC Nigeria Plc and Union Bank Plc, and held key public sector appointments, such as Chairman of the Corporate Affairs Commission and Minister of Budget & National Planning.
In addition to Udoma’s appointment, Seplat Energy announced the selection of Bello Rabiu as the new Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, effective April 1, 2024.
Rabiu, a seasoned professional with extensive experience in the petroleum industry, holds multiple degrees and has served in various capacities at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The appointments come as part of Seplat Energy’s commitment to upholding strong corporate governance practices and ensuring a smooth transition of leadership.
Both Udoma Udo Udoma and Bello Rabiu are expected to play pivotal roles in guiding Seplat Energy as it continues to expand its operations and consolidate its position as a leading energy company in Nigeria and beyond.
In a statement, Basil Omiyi, the outgoing Chairman of Seplat Energy, expressed confidence in the newly appointed leaders, emphasizing their capabilities to steer the company towards further growth and success.
The appointments underscore Seplat Energy’s dedication to fostering excellence and innovation in the energy sector while meeting the evolving needs of its stakeholders and contributing to Nigeria’s energy transition efforts.
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