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Banks, ex-CEOs Indicted as N720b Cash Disappears

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  • Banks, ex-CEOs Indicted as N720b Cash Disappears

Where is the N720 billion “invested” by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 12 years?

Nobody seems to have an answer. Not even NHIS boss Prof. Usman Yusuf.

He said the “investments” had no approvals of successive Ministers of Health, past boards of the NHIS and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF).

He said billions were lost to diversion and under-payment of interest.

Banks, former Executive Secretaries, select management staff and interest groups were all neck-deep in the scandal, Yusuf alleged.

According to the NHIS Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer, there is no trace yet of the N720billion.

Yusuf opened the lid on the corrupt practices in NHIS in a power-point presentation to the agency’s Governing Council in response to a query by the board.

He said when he discovered the scandal, he engaged forensic accountants to get to the root of the matter.

The media reported that a team raised by the Federal Government discovered that over N138billion of the NHIS cash was trapped in 17 banks, financial companies and individuals’ pockets from January 2011 to date.

In a memo to the Executive Secretary, the Chairman of the Governing Council of NHIS, Dr. Enyantu lfenne, asked him to “clear these concerns(trapped funds and Forensic Audit) and guide Council on the way forward.”

In his response to the query, the Executive Secretary said the rot in the NHIS was unimaginable.

He said: “Over N720billion of NHIS funds were “invested” over 12 years. No approvals from Minister, Board or Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation(OAGF).

“There was no transparency. In the deals were the Chief Executive Officers, banks and other interest groups. Billions of Naira were lost to diversion and underpayment of interest.

“The Executive Secretaries and select management staff were all neck deep in this.”

The Executive Secretary gave insights into the rot he inherited in NHIS and the dispute over forensic audit of the finances/ investments of the agency.

He added: “When I resumed in August 1, 2016, I could not ascertain the state of the finances of the Scheme. My preliminary findings from the review of financial records were shocking to say the least.

“I was unable to ascertain how much of the Scheme’s funds was with commercial banks, for how long and at what rate of return.

“It was unclear to me how much of the Scheme’s money was still with commercial banks before TSA and how much was transferred to TSA.

“The audited accounts of the Scheme for years ended 31st December 2011 to 2016 were in arrears and had not been signed by the previous CEOs.

“In view of all these anomalies and to bring transparency in the finances of the Scheme on December 21st 2016, I engaged the services of professional accounting firm Messrs. Sofura Professional Services to carry out a forensic review of the Scheme’s accounting system and banking transactions.

“Their scope of work included reconciliation of all NHIS current and investment accounts held with commercial banks, reconciliation of NHIS TSA with the CBN.

“Upon their engagement, I called a meeting of NHIS Management made up of all heads of departments and introduced the firm and its partners and the work they have been engaged to do.

“After the meeting, the firm began its work reviewing documents and interacting with relevant staff. I was briefed regularly by the firm on the progress of the work.

“As part of the work, I wrote letters to commercial banks requesting and mandating them to give them all necessary cooperation relating to their engagement.

“Terms of their engagement were clearly spelt out in their letter of engagement; (I) An annual engagement fee of N2, 300,000.00 per annum for retainership and;

”Reimbursable expenses and fees for each specific service undertaken for the Scheme as may be agreed upon by both parties from time to time will be paid on submission of evidence for payment to the Scheme at the end of each assignment.

“I am pleased to report that this is the first time in the 13-year history of the NHIS that a forensic audit has been undertaken in the operation of the Scheme including a review of the records of the Finance & Accounts, Contribution Management, Audit and Procurement Departments.

“Following my resumption from suspension on February 6, 2018, I became aware of the engagement of Aruna Bawa & Co. by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to carry out an audit and recovery of NHIS funds held by financial institutions, Companies and individuals into the Federal Government’s treasury.

“The information on the basis of which Aruna Bawa & Co. sought to recover NHIS funds is a product of work that I, as the CEO of NHIS, commissioned by engaging Messrs Sofura Professional Services.

“It is noteworthy that Bawa the principal partner of Aruna Bawa & Co. worked for Sofura professional Services on this assignment.

“In the course of the work, I knew Mr Aruna Bawa as a member of the Sofura team. NHIS has never had any contractual agreement with Mr Bawa or his firm.

“On March 5, 2018, I wrote a letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) asking him to cancel the engagement of Aruna Bawa and his firm as it was based on misrepresentation and that NHIS has no contractual agreement with him.

“I visited the NHIS Council Chairman at her home after inauguration of the board and told her about the issue and that I had written a letter to the AGF asking him to cancel Mr Bawa’s engagement.

“The Chairman suggested I should see the AGF and personally brief him which I promptly did.

“I have been receiving letters from banks asking me to confirm if Bawa is representing the Scheme.

“I have written to the AGF asking him to write to him and all the institutions he had introduced him.

”Messrs Sofura Professional Services is the only legitimate firm that the Scheme has a valid contract with and have been working since engagement.

“In fact, I authorized them to meet with the CBN team yesterday to explain their work at the request of the CBN team which they gave me an update on.

”Apparently, Bawa has been going to the Chairman’s house with bags of documents telling her that I and Messrs Sofura Professional Partners have ulterior motives in our quest to recover NHIS funds, hence the Chairman’s “query”.

The NHIS Executive Secretary also explained why he attended the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland from May 21 to 26.

He said the trip was not a jamboree as being insinuated in some quarters.

He said: “The World Health Assembly is an annual event by Ministers of Health from member nations.

“Nigeria’s delegation included the Minister of State for Health(HMSH) as the leader and heads of Agencies under the Federal Ministry of Health(FMoH).

“The theme of the Assembly this year was Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC). As a signatory to the Commitment to UHC, Nigeria’s delegation was ably represented by the

NHIS which is the lead Agency in Nigeria’s drive to UHC.

“With the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to fund the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) for the first time since the passing of the National Health Act, the NHIS will receive N275bn to cover vulnerable Nigerians across all geopolitical zones.

All our development partners are very excited for our government’s political will.

“The World Bank and Gates Foundation have already committed an initial $20m into the fund.

“NHIS delegation of only five was grossly inadequate considering the multiple presentations on UHC, Healthcare financing, Equity in Health care, Resource mobilization, aggregation of fragmented pools etc.”

The Governing Council of NHIS was yet to take action on the submissions of the Executive Secretary and response to its query as at the time of filing this report.

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

Banking Sector

COVID-19: CBN Extends Loan Repayment by Another One Year

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Central Bank Extends One-Year Moratorium by 12 Months

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has extended the repayment of its discounted interest rate on intervention facility by another one-year following the expiration of the first 12 months moratorium approved on March 1, 2020.

The apex bank stated in a circular titled ‘Re: Regulatory forbearance for the restructuring of credit facilities of other financial institutions impacted by COVID-19’ and released on Wednesday to all financial institutions.

In the circular signed by Kelvin Amugo, the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, CBN, the apex bank said the role-over of the moratorium on the facilities would be considered on a case by case basis.

The circular read, “The Central Bank of Nigeria reduced the interest rates on the CBN intervention facilities from nine per cent to five per cent per annum for one year effective March 1, 2020, as part of measures to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian economy.

“Credit facilities, availed through participating banks and OFIs, were also granted a one-year moratorium on all principal payments with effect from March 1, 2020.

“Following the expiration of the above timelines, the CBN hereby approves as follows:

“The extension by another 12 months to February 28, 2022 of the discounted interest rate for the CBN intervention facilities.

“The role-over of the moratorium on the above facilities shall be considered on a case by case basis.”

It would be recalled that the apex bank reduced the interest rate on its intervention facility from nine percent to five percent and approved a 12-month moratorium in March 2020 to ease the negative impact of COVID-19 on businesses.

To further deepen economic recovery and stimulate growth, the apex bank has extended the one year-moratorium until February 28, 2022.

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Finance

MTN Nigeria Generates N1.35 Trillion in Revenue in 2020

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MTN Nigeria Grows Revenue by 15.1 Percent from N1.169 Trillion in 2019 to N1.35 Trillion in 2020

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and challenging business environment, MTN Nigeria realised N1.346 trillion in revenue in the financial year ended December 31, 2020.

The leading telecommunications giant grew revenue by 15.1 percent from N1.169 trillion posted in the same period of 2019.

Operating profit surprisingly jumped by 8.5 percent from N393.225 billion in 2019 to N426.713 billion in 2020.

This, the telecom giant attributed to the surge in finance costs due to increased borrowings from N413 billion in 2019 to N521 billion in 2020.

MTN Nigeria further stated that the increase in finance costs was the reason for the decline in growth of profit before tax to 2.6 percent.

MTN Nigeria grew profit before tax by 2.6 percent to N298.874 billion, up from N291.277 billion filed in the corresponding period of 2019.

The company posted N205.214 billion profit for the year, a 0.9 percent increase from N203.283 billion recorded in the 2019 financial year.

Share capital remained unchanged at N407 million. While Total equity increased by 22.3 percent from N145.857 billion in 2019 to N178.386 billion in 2020.

MTN Nigeria’s market price per share increased by 61.8 percent from N105 to N169.90.

While market capitalisation as at year-end also expanded by 61.8 percent to N3.458 trillion, up from N2.137 trillion.

The number of shares issued and fully paid as at year-end stood at 20.354 million.

MTN Nigeria margins were affected by Naira devaluations and capital expenditure due to the new 4G network coverage roll-out.

Margins were adversely affected by the effect of naira devaluation and expenses associated with new sites’ roll-out to boost 4G network coverage in FY’20.

“On the former, we note that MTNN expanded the scope of its service agreement with IHS Holding Limited and changed the reference rate for converting USD tower expenses to NAFEX (vs CBN’s official rate previously). Thus, over the full-year period, the company’s operating margin contracted by 1.9 ppts YoY to 31.7%,” CardinalStone stated in its latest report.

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Finance

Nestle Nigeria Approves Final Dividend of N35.50k per 50 Kobo Ordinary Share for 2020

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Nestle Nigeria Approves Final Dividend of N35.50k per 50 Kobo Ordinary Share for 2020

Nestle Nigeria, a leading food and beverage company, has declared a final dividend of N35.50k per 50 kobo ordinary share for the year ended December 31, 2020.

The beverage company said N24.50k of the amount declared was from the after-tax profit of 2020 and N5 and N6 were from the after-tax retained earnings of the years ended December 2019 and 2018, respectively.

Nestle Nigeria stated that the amount declared is subject to appropriate withholding tax and approval at the Annual General Meeting of shareholders.

It also noted that payment will be made only to shareholders whose names appear in the Register of Members as at the close of business on 21 May 2021.

Dividends will be paid electronically to shareholders whose names appear on the Register of Members as at 21 May 2021, and who have completed the e-dividend registration and mandated the Registrar to pay their dividends directly into their Bank accounts.

Shareholders who are yet to complete the e-dividend registration are advised to download the Registrar’s E-Dividend Mandate Activation Form, which is also available on their website: www.gtlregistrars.com, complete and submit to the Registrar or their respective Banks.

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