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N500bn: NECA, Experts Demand Independent CBN Audit

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  • N500bn: NECA, Experts Demand Independent CBN Audit

Financial and economic experts have demanded an independent audit of the Central Bank of Nigeria following the alleged missing of N500bn.

They made this call while speaking in exclusive interviews with our correspondents.

The Director-General, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, Mr Timothy Olawale, said despite the denial of the CBN that no N500bn was missing, there was still a need for due diligence to be followed, in unravelling the controversy surrounding it.

He specifically asked relevant government security and anti-graft agencies to look into the allegation to allay the fears of Nigerians on the alleged missing money.

He said, “Despite the denial of the CBN, there is still a need for due diligence to be followed in unravelling the controversy surrounding the alleged missing of N500bn. This is necessary in order to allay the fears of Nigerians on the issue.

“The relevant security and anti-graft agencies like Criminal Investigation Department and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission must be brought in to unravel whatever gave rise to such an allegation. It is only then that Nigerians will know what is really happening.”

The Registrar, Institute of Finance and Control of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Eohoi, said while the apex bank boss had done a lot to stimulate the economy through various intervention programmes, there was a need for an independent audit of activities under his leadership.

This, he noted, would help to ensure that proper books of account were kept under the apex bank boss.

He said, “Every allegation is subject to investigations by the security agencies based on the fact that the current administration is fighting corruption.

“This is vital to clear the air for a better Nigeria. Someone can be investigated and not found culpable. If the tape is not to blackmail the CBN governor, then it should be investigated.

“The government should set up an audit panel to check what actually transpired at the CBN. The volume of money involved is huge and should not be swept under the carpet.

“At the Institute of Finance and Control, we stand for a sound financial control system. Finance should be well controlled that it would not lead to any misappropriation.”

A developmental economist, Odilim Enwangbara, said the allegations should not be dismissed based on the fact that it was coming at a time when the appointment of the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, was being renewed for a second term.

He said, “Of course, the allegations should be investigated. The transaction involved should be looked into. It is not enough to say the allegation is not true. It should be looked at to determine what actually happened.

“We have got to a level in this country when we cannot continue this way.”

A former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr Sam Nzekwe, worried that during the tenure of a past CBN governor, there was a similar issue like that when money was reported to be missing but nothing happened after that.

He said, “When they talk about this one again, we are confused. Even though the CBN is saying that the reporter did not get the beginning of the conversation, there must be something going on. The public needs to know and if the current CBN governor wants to keep on creating confidence or wants the public to have confidence in his second term, he has to come out clearly to tell us exactly what is the issue surrounding that so that the public can also be able to make an informed decision.

“But if you are telling us that nothing like that happened and we don’t have the background information on that and people are saying that something happened, it behoves on the CBN to come out and give us the information of what has transpired for the public to stop feeling that way.

“Let them give us the beginning part of what happened because we are dealing with people’s money. It is not just denying,”

The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, said the purported confession by Emefiele that money was missing showed that many officials working in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari did not share his anti-corruption drive.

Rafsanjani said, “I am not surprised, given the nature and character of this administration, which some of its personnel have been exhibiting. They act in a way that shows they don’t believe in the government that is fighting corruption.

“These kinds of leaks are not new. Audio bearing the voice of the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, also leaked some time ago. It is because there is a disconnect between the officials on the one hand and the nation and the administration they represent.

“It is the same with the National Assembly leadership and the issue is that even when they are found wanting, they will never resign because, for them, it is not about service.”

He said the CBN governor could be given the benefit of the doubt since he had claimed that the audio misrepresented facts.

Rafsanjani, however, said if it was true that N500bn was missing, then the National Assembly and other bodies in charge of oversight had failed in their jobs.

The CBN on Sunday night said that contrary to claims in some quarters, there was no money missing or stolen from the apex bank.

The bank said this in a statement signed by the Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Isaac Okorafor.

The statement said contrary to the narrative that the discussion was about a fraudulent transaction, the beginning of the conversation was omitted to create a different impression to a misunderstanding that affected the bank’s balance sheet.

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.

Economy

Nigeria’s Real Estate Sector Shrinks by 8.06% in the Third Quarter -NBS

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Economic uncertainty plunged Nigeria’s real estate sector by 8.06 percent in the third quarter of the year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Nigeria’s statistics office said “In nominal terms, real estate services recorded a growth rate of –8.06 per cent in the third quarter of 2020, indicating a decline of –11.78 per cent points compared to the growth rate at the same period in 2019, and by 9.12 per cent points when compared to the preceding quarter.

“Quarter-on-quarter, the sector growth rate was 18.92 per cent.

“Real GDP growth recorded in the sector in Q3 2020 stood at -13.40 per cent, lower than the growth recorded in third quarter of 2019 by –11.09 per cent points, but higher relative to Q2 2020 by 8.59 per cent points.

“Quarter-on-quarter, the sector grew by 17.15 per cent in the third quarter of 2020.

“It contributed 5.58 per cent to real GDP in Q3, 2020, lower than the 6.21 per cent it recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2019.”

Nigeria’s economy contracted by 2.48 percent in the first nine months following a 6.10 percent and 3.62 percent contraction in the second and third quarters respectively.

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Economy

Nigeria Requires N400 Billion Annually to Maintain Federal Roads -Senator Bassey

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The Chairman of the Senate Committee on road maintenance, Senator Gersome Bassey, on Friday said Nigeria requires about N400 billion annually to maintain federal roads across the country.

The Senator, therefore, described the N38 billion budgeted for road repairs in the 2021 proposed Budget as grossly inadequate. According to him, nothing meaningful could be achieved by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) with such an amount.

He said, “For the 35 kilometres federal roads in the country to be motorable at all times, the sum of N400bn is required on yearly basis for maintenance.”

Bassey “What the committee submitted to the Appropriation Committee in the 2021 fiscal year is the N38bn proposed for it by the executive which cannot cover up to one quarter of the entire length of deplorable roads in the country.

“Unfortunately, despite having the power of appropriation, we cannot as a committee jerk up the sum since we are not in a position to carry out the estimation of work to be done on each of the specific portion of the road.

“Doing that without proposals to that effect from the executive, may lead to project insertion or padding as often alleged in the media.”

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Economy

Scarcity of Day-Old-Chicks Cripple Poultry Farmers in Akwa Ibom

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Despite billions of Naira spent on Akwa Prime Hatchery and Poultry Limited by the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, poultry farmers in the state said they had to order day-old-chicks from outside the state as the 200,000 capacity poultry farm developed specifically to make day-old-chicks and other poultry products available at affordable prices is almost empty at the moment.

The farmers expressed frustration over many challenges they face in the course of bringing day-old-chicks from outside the state. Usually, Ibadan, Enugu and sometimes as far as Kaduna, while the hatchery built and inaugurated in 2016 remains idle.

Mr Ekot Akpan, one of the poultry farmers who spoke with the pressmen said the state had not had it this bad.

Akpan said: “For the 12 years that I have been in poultry farming, this is the first time that poultry farmers have been so harshly affected by both economic and non-economic factors. And, quite unfortunately, nobody is available to offer any explanation.

“Farmers have been left at the whims and caprice of owners of the means of production.

“There seems to be no government regulation of the poultry industry. How, do you explain a situation where you wake up suddenly and the price of a day old chick is selling for N600, a bag of feed goes as high as N6,000.

“And, in a state that government claims to be pursuing agriculture as one of his cardinal programmes.

“For instance, in 2016, the state government said it has constructed an hatchery, and the intention according the government was to ensure availability of day old chicks at affordable price to farmers, but, quite, unfortunately, that effort has not yielded any tangible result.

“Farmers are still getting their day old chicks from Ibadan, Kaduna, and Enugu. So, the question now is where is the hatchery?

“One would have expected that farmers would be buying old chicks at humane prices, but, from all indications they acclaimed hatchery is a ruse. So, which one is the Akwa Prime Hatchery producing,” he said.

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