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Nigeria and EU Ink €900 Million Deal to Drive Green and Digital Transformation

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Nigeria and the European Union (EU) have officially signed a €900 million financial package aimed at propelling Nigeria’s green, resilient, and digital inclusive transition.

This landmark agreement aligns with the strategic priorities of both parties and exemplifies the EU’s Global Gateway initiative, which seeks to foster sustainable and trustworthy connections with partner countries.

The financial package, developed collaboratively between Nigeria and the EU, is designed to launch innovative programs through the Global Gateway initiative.

Among the key allocations are €29 million for climate-smart agriculture, €37 million for sustainable energy, €45 million for enhancing access to healthcare services, and €5.4 million for supporting youth and education development in Nigeria’s North West region.

The latter allocation is expected to contribute significantly to the improvement of the teaching profession and the capacity-building of educators in the area.

This agreement was formally inked at the EU-Nigeria Strategic Dialogue in Abuja, signifying another milestone in the enduring partnership between the EU and Nigeria.

The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Bagudu, emphasized the significance of this dialogue, asserting that it offers an opportunity for the articulation and consolidation of priorities to benefit both parties.

In addition to the allocations mentioned above, €46 million will be dedicated to expanding access to Nigeria’s social protection safety net, while €28.4 million will be used to support border management and the reintegration of returnees.

€20 million will be directed towards the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former Boko Haram combatants in the North-east region, and €30 million will contribute to improving the criminal justice system, enhancing access to justice, and intensifying the fight against corruption.

This historic agreement signifies a strong commitment to the principles of sustainable development, green initiatives, and mutual growth, ensuring a brighter future for Nigeria and fostering deeper cooperation between Nigeria and the EU.

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Finance

Federal Government Clears $120m Debt to Gas Companies Amid Nigeria’s Power Crisis

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Gas-Pipeline

Amidst Nigeria’s persistent power crisis, the Federal Government has taken a pivotal step forward by clearing a significant portion of its debt to gas companies.

A sum of $120 million has been paid out of the country’s $1.3 billion indebtedness to gas suppliers, offering a glimmer of hope for improved energy stability across the nation.

The Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, underscored the critical role of gas in power generation and highlighted how the mounting debts had severely hampered gas supply to electricity-generating companies, exacerbating the country’s electricity shortfall.

Nigeria heavily relies on thermal power plants fueled by gas for over 70% of its electricity needs, making the timely settlement of gas debts paramount for enhancing power generation capacity and addressing the nation’s energy deficit.

Addressing delegates at the 7th Nigeria International Energy Summit in Abuja, the Director of the Decade of Gas Secretariat, Ed Ubong, expressed optimism about the government’s progress in offsetting its financial obligations to gas producers.

He emphasized the importance of aligning gas and power sectors to foster sustainable energy solutions.

As Nigeria grapples with the multifaceted challenges plaguing its energy landscape, the government’s commitment to settling outstanding gas debts marks a pivotal stride towards revitalizing the country’s power infrastructure and ensuring reliable electricity access for its citizens.

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Finance

Nigeria Insurance Corporation Reimburses Depositors of 179 Closed Microfinance and Four Mortgage Banks

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Retail banking

The Nigeria Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has announced the successful reimbursement of depositors affected by the closure of 179 microfinance banks and four mortgage banks across the country.

The reassuring news came during the 45th Kaduna International Trade Fair, where NDIC’s Managing Director, Dr. Bello Hassan, explained the corporation’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding depositors’ funds amidst financial uncertainties.

Dr. Hassan, represented by Hauwa Gambo, the NDIC’s Deputy Director of Communication, highlighted the corporation’s proactive measures in protecting the interests of depositors.

The introduction of the Single Customer View framework has expedited the process of reimbursing depositors of liquidated banks, ensuring swift and transparent transactions.

The corporation’s collaboration with the judiciary has yielded positive results, facilitating the speedy prosecution of failed insured banks and resolving long-standing cases of bank liquidations like Fortune and Triumph Banks.

This concerted effort has significantly enhanced the debt recovery rate, enabling NDIC to declare full liquidation dividends to uninsured depositors of over 20 deposit money banks.

Furthermore, NDIC has embraced digital remote payment strategies, streamlining electronic funds transfers to verified depositors’ alternate bank accounts.

The introduction of the ‘Deposit Tracer’ initiative in partnership with mobile operators aims to address apathy among depositors with small balances, providing accessible avenues for claiming funds trapped in closed banks.

The initiatives underscore NDIC’s proactive stance in safeguarding depositors’ interests and ensuring financial stability in Nigeria’s banking sector.

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Banking Sector

85.51 Million Nigerian Bank Customers Face Withdrawal Freeze Over NIN, BVN Deadline

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First Bank

As the March 1 deadline looms, an estimated 85.51 million Nigerian bank customers are facing the possibility of frozen accounts due to their failure to link their National Identification Numbers (NINs) and/or Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) to their accounts.

Recent findings reveal the potential scale of the impending banking crisis.

Data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) indicates that Nigeria had approximately 146 million active individual bank customers as of December 2022.

However, by January 26, 2024, only 60.49 million BVNs were recorded on the NIBSS portal, leaving a significant portion unlinked.

Meanwhile, about 104 million NINs had been issued by December 2023, highlighting the disparity between NIN issuance and BVN linkage.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had earlier issued directives to banks, mandating them to restrict transactions on accounts lacking linked NINs and BVNs, with effect from March 1, 2024.

Any accounts found non-compliant risk being designated as ‘Post no Debit,’ rendering them unable to process further transactions.

Responding to the impending crisis, the Director-General of the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC), Abisoye Coker-Odusote, emphasized the need for the revalidation of Front-End Partners (FEPs) to ensure the integrity of the identity database.

She underscored the importance of NIN registration and urged collaboration with various stakeholders to expedite the process.

The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida, reiterated the significance of linking NINs to SIM cards to enhance national security.

Telecom subscribers were urged to comply with the NIN-SIM linkage directive to avoid service disruptions.

Meanwhile, financial service providers like Opay have issued reminders of the impending restrictions, urging customers to comply with the linkage requirements.

Amidst concerns, some customers contemplate transferring funds to compliant accounts to avoid potential financial setbacks.

As the deadline approaches, stakeholders are intensifying efforts to mitigate the impact of the impending banking crisis on millions of Nigerians.

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