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Senate Plans to Invite CBN, Banks Over High Interest Rates



  • Senate Plans to Invite CBN, Banks Over High Interest Rates

Senate President Bukola Saraki has said the Senate is concerned about the high interest rates on loans, stating that lawmakers will this week discuss the issue with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Deposit Money Banks.

He stated that in an economy where workers were being retrenched and people were losing investments, it was immoral for certain sectors to be making astronomical profits.

In an interview with journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Sunday, the Senate President said, “They (banks) will tell you that they are doing business but in doing business, there must be social responsibility. We must be able to sit down and look at ourselves eyeball to eyeball, and we intend to do that; and I can promise Nigerians that we can find a solution. Hopefully with the stability in the forex market, we will now begin to address the high interest rate.

“There is no business that can make money if it is trying to borrow at 28 or 29 per cent. It cannot work and if we cannot get the banks to lend to the real sector and they carry on their money to government instruments, there cannot be growth. So, we must tackle that. I can assure you that I will lead that challenge. We must sit down and discuss it.”

Saraki added, “They are in business to make money but we must look at what money is reasonable in this kind of environment. You may have to reduce that profitability to allow your country to grow. It is that balancing that we need, but in doing that, there must be some incentives. We may have to tell them, ‘Listen, we may have to limit how much you put in government security’.

“What do you do with that extra amount of money? It must go to the real sector. It must go to the business that produce made-in-Nigeria products. They may say that it is too risky to do that. In doing that, we must give them some assistance. This is the kind of negotiation we must make.”

He said the Senate would discuss with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the banks on how to address the high interest rate regime.

The Senate President urged Nigerians to patronise homemade products, adding that people should report any Ministry, Department and Agency that flouted the Senate’s directive that indigenous companies producing such commodities should be given the option of first refusal during public procurement.

On the delay in the signing of the 2017 budget into law, Saraki told Nigerians not to be apprehensive about whether the Presidency would assent to the budget or not.

He said, “There was a comment I read online where the Presidency had said it did not have an intention not to sign. I do not think that (not signing the budget) will happen; I doubt very much.

“Nigerians should not be concerned about that; I am pretty sure that the Executive will sign the bill and we will begin to implement the budget. I am confident that the Executive will sign it very soon. There should be no anxiety there.”

Saraki added that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill was another landmark in the Senate.

He clarified that the proposed National Road Fund Bill would not lead to an increase in the current pump prices of fuel in the country.

Saraki stated, “Our roads around the country are not adequately funded. If we are banking on the appropriation process, we will not be able to adequately fund and refurbish our roads.

“Anybody that read the full report would have known that after the public hearing, which involved stakeholders from the road and transport industry, it was recommended that N5 from each litre of petrol should be channelled towards our roads.

“However, this is not going to be an additional N5, but N5 out of the present price of N145 that Nigerians are currently paying at the pump.”

The Senate President aligned with the view that the country would be out of recession in the third quarter of this year.

He stated that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari had made remarkable progress in implementing measures for Nigeria to exit recession.

Saraki said, “I believe that by the next quarter, we should technically go out of recession. I believe that efforts have been put in place to be able to revive our revenues, bring stability to the Niger Delta and restore confidence to the market.

“The Nigerian currency was undervalued when it was about N500 to $1, because people were speculating and not that it was the true value of the naira. Investors lost confidence in the market. This is the first time you see when our currency has depreciated and also appreciated significantly.

“There are investments now coming in. It is even reflected in the capital market. You can see inflows coming in. I see an upward projection in investment coming in and businesses begin to move.”

He also said it was insensitive of elected political office holders to abandon serious issues of serving their constituents and preoccupy themselves with the 2019 elections.

Saraki noted that 2019 was still a long period for serious-minded politicians to concentrate their energy on to the detriment of good governance.

He admitted that elected public office holders had not met some of the expectations of Nigerians, adding that they should rather be committed to rendering services and fulfilling their electoral promises.

Saraki stated, “The year 2019 is a long way. Any serious-minded politician, who is interested in his people, should not be talking about 2019, especially if we want to be honest with ourselves; some of the expectations of our people have not been met. I think it will be insensitive if we have left that and we are now talking about 2019. We need to work hard to make sure that we meet those expectations.

“The economy is already moving in the right direction, which is why we are addressing the issue of security, which is good. We are fighting corruption; we need to do more in that area. By the time we work tremendously over the next one year, I think we will be in a place where we can beat our chest and say we have done well.”

Saraki added that though financial autonomy for local government areas might be approved during the ongoing constitutional review, it would be more desirable for the LGAs to be adequately funded to address their statutory responsibilities.

According to him, the current allocations to the local governments in the country are not adequate to meet their needs.

He said it might be desirable to reduce the burdens of the councils such as education, which he said would be better handled by the state government.

Saraki stated that without the support of state governments, about 95 per cent of local governments in the country would not be able to pay salaries, talk less of providing infrastructure.

He said, “The finances are not just there. All the 36 states cannot be doing something wrong. I do not think there is a place where the revenues of the LGs can meet their expenditure, despite that they still have responsibilities like primary education.

“We need to review that. Maybe we will go back and look at whether state governments should truly take over primary education, because the arm of government that cannot even meet administrative expenses, you now put on it a very important sector as education.

“There must be something structurally wrong with it and we need to put our heads together and take decisions on the way forward. Maybe we need to review what kind of responsibilities they have.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.


CBN Freezes Another 194 Accounts of firms, BDCs, Others



Godwin Emefile

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday said it got orders from the Federal High Court, Abuja division, to freeze 194 bank accounts belonging to firms and Bureaux de Change to enable it to conduct investigations into suspicious activities.

It disclosed this on Thursday in three separate documents on its website.

In one of the documents, the CBN said it got an order to freeze 60 bank accounts of Bluebeam Capital Limited.

The accounts were domiciled in 13 different banks, the CBN as the plaintiff stated.

Bluebeam, as the respondent had eight accounts each in Access Bank and Keystone Bank; seven each in First Bank and Ecobank; five each in UBA and GTBank; four each in Fidelity Bank, FCMB and Sterling Bank; three accounts in Polaris Bank; two each in Wema Bank and Heritage Bank; and one in Providus Bank.

In another document, the CBN said it got an order to freeze 84 accounts in 17 banks.

The third document revealed that the banking regulator had the court order to freeze 50 accounts domiciled in different banks.

The motions exparte which were signed on different dates sought the orders of the court to direct the banks to freeze all other bank accounts of the defendants for a period of 180 days, pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry being conducted by the CBN.

In the document signed by the Presiding Judge, A.R. Mohammed, the court empowered the CBN to direct the banks to freeze all the bank accounts for a period of 45 days only, pending the outcome of the investigation.

It added that the order may be extended upon good reasons shown.

Any person aggrieved by this order could apply to the court to have the order set aside, discharged or have the order reviewed upon good reasons without waiting for the 45 days to lapse, the document stated.

The CBN on Wednesday disclosed it got an order to freeze 11 bank accounts to enable it conduct investigations into suspicious activities.

It had listed the names of the defendants/respondents as Albert Austin Ugochukwu with two bank accounts; Belfour Energy & Allied Services; Belfour Oil and Gas Limited with three bank accounts; Circle Flow Integrated Services; Kacynaus Reality Nigeria Limited with three bank accounts; and Tasmara Integrated Services.

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Banking Sector

Insider Dealing: Henry Oroh, An Executive Director of Zenith Bank, Acquires N46.982 Million Worth of Zenith Bank Shares



Henry Oroh

Henry Oro, an executive director of Zenith Bank Plc, has dumped N46.982 million on shares of Zenith Bank, according to the latest filing with the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

The executive director purchased Zenith Bank’s shares of 724,527 on April 1st, 2021 at N22.05 each or N15.976 million.

On April 6th, Oroh added 612,573 shares at N22 a unit and another 400,000 units at N21.90 per share.

On the same day, he purchased another 400,000 units at N21.90 a share. Bringing aggregate purchase on April 6th to 1,412,573 at an average price of N21.95 a unit or N31.006 million.

Henry Oroh has spent a total of N46.982 million on Zenith shares in April.

Henry Oroh was appointed as Zenith Bank’s executive director on September 1st, 2019 and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Benin, Edo State and an MBA from the Lagos State University as well as an LLB Degree from the University of London.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and an honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIBN), Nigeria.

He has over two decades of banking experience. He began his banking career in 1992 at Citibank where he served for seven (7) years in Operations, Treasury and Marketing.

He joined Zenith Bank in February 1999 and has worked in various Groups and Departments within the Zenith Group Office. His expertise spans Operations, Information Technology, Treasury, Marketing, including the Manufacturing, Food and Beverages, Pharmaceuticals, Oil and Gas, Public Sector, Consumer, as well as Corporate Banking and Business Development.

In April 2012, he was seconded to Zenith Bank Ghana Limited as an Executive Director and became the Managing Director/ Chief Executive in February 2016, where he successfully spearheaded the phenomenal growth of the Zenith Brand both within the Ghana market and the West African sub-region.

Henry has attended several Leadership Programmes and Executive Management Courses at the Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, New York, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, HEC Paris, JP Morgan Chase, UK and the Lagos Business School.

He comes to the Board of Zenith Bank Plc with strong competencies in Credit & Marketing, Operations, Information Technology, Treasury and impressive Leadership skills.

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Banking Sector

Access Bank Lagos City Marathon Adopts Virtual Audience For 10km Runners



In a bid to ensure the health and safety of all runners and essential service workers amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, the title sponsors of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, Access Bank PLC, has announced that the Lagos City Marathon will be held virtually for interested 10km runners this year.

The marathon, scheduled for April 10, 2021 can only accommodate 300 runners in line with the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Athletics and the Lagos State Ministry of Health.

Speaking on the development, Access Bank’s Executive Director of Retail Banking, Victor Etuokwu said, “Our primary consideration is the health and safety of participants, attendees and staff that will be a part of the Lagos City Marathon. This is why we decided to have an exclusive virtual event – that allows participants from all over the world to run the race wherever they are.

‘’While we regret that we can’t host the live 10km race and fanfare that have become synonymous with the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, we continue to stand with the other sponsors to preserve public health as we look forward to hosting a successful marathon. We implore all well-meaning Lagosians to please adhere to the movement guidelines put in place by the Lagos State Government to ensure that the marathon fulfills its purpose of positively placing Lagos and indeed the whole of Africa on the global map,” he concluded.

Though audience participation may have changed, the organisers have also announced that the race route will largely remain the same. Runners will begin the race from the National Stadium, Surulere, opposite Teslim Balogun Stadium and finish at the Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island.

Now in its sixth edition, the Silver – Labelled Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has featured over 200,000 registered athletes from over 12 participating countries collectively covering a distance of 42,000 kilometers.

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