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Consistent Rise in Unemployment Forced Pension Account Holders to Withdraw N14.79 Billion in 10 Months

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pension funds - Investors King

The rising unemployment number due to the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many pension account holders to start withdrawing part of the funds.

According to the report from the National Pension Commission, it was revealed that pension account holders who lost their jobs have continuously approached their Pension Funds Administrators to withdraw parts of their funds from their Retirement Savings Accounts.

The Pension Reform Act 2014, allows a worker who lost his job to access 25 percent of his RSA if the individual fails to get another paid job after four months.

In the first-quarter report, PenCom said, “During the quarter under review, the commission granted approval for the payment of N4.31bn to 8,221 RSA holders who were under the age of 50 years and were disengaged from work but unable to secure another job within four months of disengagement”.

The second-quarter report shows that the commission granted another approval for payment of N2.56bn to 4,668 RSA holders who were under the age of 50 years and were disengaged from work but unable to secure another job within four months of disengagement.

The commission third-quarter report further explained that “During third quarter 2020, the commission granted approval for the payment of N8.1bn to 13,569 RSA holders who were under the age of 50 years and were disengaged from work but unable to secure jobs within four months of disengagement”.

Mr. Peter Aghaowa, the Head of Corporate Communications, PenCom, said that in order to lessen the hardship faced by workers who lost their jobs as a result of the negative impact of the global health pandemic, an account holder who lost his/her job would be granted approval to withdraw a quarter of the savings in their Retirement Savings Accounts if he/she fails to secure a paid job after four months.

Mr. Peter said, “The contributory pension was designed to allow access to 25 percent of retirement savings balance in a situation whereby you lose your job. “So if you lose your job, after four months you can access 25 percent of your RSA contribution”.

Following the launching of the Transfer window for RSA account holders, it was revealed that over 2,100 account holders have submitted applications to change their Pension Fund Administrators. This happened less than two weeks after the transfer window was officially opened on November 16, 2020.

Aghahowa explained that this new development would enhance competition and improve service delivery in the pension industry.

He also said that RSA account holders will now have the right to determine the PFAs that will manage their account and also change to another pension company at most ones in a year

Mr. Polycarp Anyanwu, Head of ICT at PenCom said, “Over 2,100 applications were submitted and received by the commission between 16th and 30th of November, 2020.”

He also noted that most RSA account holders were not satisfied with the current service of their PFAs and hence the need to change to a better one.

Mr. Wale Odutola, the President of Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria, who is also the managing director/Chief Executive Officer, ARM Pension PFA, said that pension fund operators had executed the necessary requirement by upgrading their IT systems to enhance seamless pension account transfer.

He further said that the principal aim is to grow the pension industry, ensure that pension funds have a bigger impact on the economy, and give good investment returns to stakeholders.

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Goya Foods Takes Legal Action to Assert ‘Goya Olive Oil’ Trademark Ownership

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Goya Foods

“Goya Olive Oil” trademark in Nigeria, Goya Foods Incorporated has initiated legal proceedings against the Registrar of Trademarks under the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment.

The case, numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/883/2023, was brought before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Goya Foods, a prominent producer and distributor of foods and beverages across the United States, Spanish-speaking countries, and Nigeria, seeks to enforce a longstanding consent judgment issued by the court in December 2006.

The judgment directed the Registrar to rectify the Trademarks Register to reflect Goya Foods Incorporated as the rightful owner of the “Goya Olive Oil” trademark, without any further formalities.

The lawsuit, exclusively revealed to sources, underscores Goya Foods’ determination to safeguard its intellectual property against alleged infringements.

According to court documents, Goya Foods obtained the consent judgment against Chikason Industries Limited, which was accused of marketing “Goya Olive Oil” in Nigeria, thus infringing on Goya Foods’ registered trademark.

Legal counsel for Goya Foods, Ade Adedeji, SAN, emphasized the necessity of rectifying the Trademarks Register to protect their trademark interests effectively.

Despite appeals to the Registrar, the requested rectification has not been implemented, prompting Goya Foods to escalate the matter through legal channels.

The case has been adjourned to September 27, 2024, for further proceedings, highlighting the complexity and significance of trademark disputes in the global marketplace.

Goya Foods remains committed to upholding its brand integrity and securing its proprietary interests amidst the evolving landscape of international trademark law.

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IOCs Accused of Blocking Direct Crude Sales to Dangote Refinery

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Dangote Refinery

Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) has accused International Oil Companies (IOCs) of obstructing direct crude oil sales to its refinery and forcing the company to use costly middlemen.

This development comes after a statement by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) suggested a “willing buyer-willing seller” dynamic was in place as mandated by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

Devakumar Edwin, Vice President of DIL, countered NUPRC CEO Gbenga Komolafe’s claims, stating that IOCs consistently make it difficult for local refiners by pushing sales through international trading arms, which inflate prices and bypass Nigerian laws.

“These middlemen earn unjustified margins on crude produced and consumed within Nigeria,” Edwin stated.

He noted that only one local producer, Sapetro, has sold directly to DIL, while others insist on using trading arms abroad.

Edwin detailed the financial impact, citing instances where DIL was charged a $2-$4 premium per barrel above the official price.

In April, DIL paid $96.23 per barrel for Bonga crude, which included significant premiums, compared to a much lower premium for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude.

While acknowledging NUPRC’s support in resolving some supply issues, Edwin urged the regulatory body to revisit pricing policies to ensure fair market practices.

“Market liquidity is essential for fair pricing. We hope NUPRC addresses these issues to prevent price gouging,” he stated.

This dispute highlights ongoing challenges in Nigeria’s oil sector, where domestic refiners struggle to secure local crude amidst complex market dynamics.

The outcome of these negotiations could significantly impact the refinery’s operations and broader industry practices.

The situation underscores the need for transparent and efficient crude supply systems to bolster Nigeria’s refining capacity and economic growth.

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Dangote’s $20 Billion Refinery to Begin Petrol Sales Next Month

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Petrol - Investors King

Aliko Dangote announced on Monday that his long-awaited $20 billion refinery complex will commence petrol sales starting next month.

The announcement came during a press briefing held at the refinery site in Lagos, where Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, detailed the project’s progress and future plans.

“We are proud to announce that the Dangote Refinery will begin selling petrol from August,” Dangote stated confidently.

“This milestone marks the culmination of years of meticulous planning, construction, and overcoming numerous challenges.”

Dangote’s refinery, touted as the largest single-train refinery in the world, is designed to process 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day once fully operational.

The facility aims to not only meet Nigeria’s domestic demand for refined petroleum products but also contribute significantly to export markets across West Africa.

“We have entered the steady-state production phase earlier this year, and now we are ready to begin commercial sales,” Dangote explained. “Initially, we will focus on petrol production, with plans to expand our product range as we ramp up to full capacity.”

The refinery’s launch is expected to alleviate Nigeria’s longstanding dependence on imported refined products, thereby boosting the country’s energy security and reducing foreign exchange outflows associated with fuel imports.

Beyond petrol sales, Dangote revealed ambitious plans to list both the refinery and its associated fertilizer plant on the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) by the first quarter of 2025.

This move aims to attract broader investor participation and unlock additional value for shareholders.

“We are committed to transparency and accountability in our operations,” Dangote emphasized. “Listing these subsidiaries on the NGX will not only strengthen our corporate governance framework but also enhance the refinery’s financial sustainability.”

Challenges and Future Prospects

Despite celebrating the imminent commencement of petrol sales, Dangote acknowledged challenges encountered during the project’s execution, including delays in securing land for a petrochemical facility in Ogun State, which incurred substantial costs.

“We faced bureaucratic hurdles that resulted in significant delays and financial losses,” Dangote lamented. “Nevertheless, we remain steadfast in our commitment to advancing Nigeria’s industrial capabilities and contributing to economic growth.”

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