Nigeria says working hard to resolve gasoline crisis

In a chat with Nigerians from all walks of life on Sunday evening during the stopover, the Vice President noted that the Federal Government was moving as quickly as it could to solve the fuel crisis and reduce the difficulties Nigerians were facing as a result.

How Jonathan’s officials, cousin shared 27bln proceeds of PHCN sale -EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has narrated how top government officials under the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan shared 27 billion, part of the proceeds of the sale of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in 2014.

- Nigeria unemployment rate climbs up

Four out of every ten people in Nigeria's workforce were unemployed or underemployed by the end of September, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Friday.

Why is Jerusalem important, what makes Donald Trump's intervention so toxic

What is the status of Jerusalem? Israel set up its parliament in West Jerusalem when the state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948. The move followed the United Nations’ vote to partition Palestine on the basis of the British pledge known as the Balfour Declaration that paved the way for a homeland for the Jewish people.

- Nigeria's dollar reserves at $34.53 bln as of Nov. 24

Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $34.53 billion as of Nov. 24, up nearly 3 percent from a month earlier, central bank data showed on Thursday. The bank did not provide a reason for the increase in reserves, which stood at $33.58 billion at the same date last month.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Anniversary: 1 Year After Wedding: Harry And Meghan Have New Home, Son

It’s been an eventful first year of marriage for Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle, now known formally as the Duchess of Sussex.

The besotted couple wed on May 19, 2018 before rapt crowds outside of Windsor Castle, with one of the largest TV audiences ever assembled.
The couple was lucky enough to enjoy beautiful spring weather on their wedding day. They made the best of it by taking a carriage ride through Windsor.
They maintained a frenetic pace of official engagements until Meghan withdrew from most royal duties in March ahead of the birth of their first child, Archie, who was born this month.
Harry and Meghan have also moved from central London to a more secluded location near Windsor Castle in a quest for privacy.

Nigeria Realises 1.5 Trln Naira From Tax In Q1 2019 ~ FIRS Chief

Nigeria generated 1.5 trillion naira income from taxes in the first quarter of the year, the Federal Inland Revenue Service ((FIRS) has disclosed.
Babatunde Fowler, chairman of FIRS said the amount included revenue from non-oil taxes that were 11 percent higher than what the agency realised from that sector in Q1 of 2018.
“In the first quarter (of 2019), what I will say is that in the non-oil sector, we generated 11 percent higher than what we generated in 2018.
“Basically, we have generated about N1.5 trillion,” Fowler said.
The service had generated 1.17 trillion naira in the corresponding period of last year, indicating 28 percent less than this year's figure.
Also, the amount generated in the first quarter represents about 18.7 percent of the FIRS’s total revenue target of 8 trillion naira for 2019.
Fowler said the target, described by economy watchers as quite ambitious, was realistic with the cooperation of taxpayers, among other factors.
“It is quite realistic as long as we have the cooperation of taxpayers in addition to deployment of technology.
“We have already started the enforcement of over 50,000 accounts that have banking turnover of 100 billion and above that have not filed their returns.”
The FIRS boss also spoke of plans by the agency to surpass the over N1 trillion it realised from Valued Added Tax (VAT) in 2018.
“We will get more people into the tax net and deploy more technology.
“We have what we call Auto VAT Collect, and that basically assists taxpayers at the point of transaction, and the VAT portion is sent straight into the federation account.
“So, we know that there is more room for growth in the VAT sector,” he explained.

50 % Of Abuja Residents Defecate Openly ~Reports

No fewer than 50 percent of residents of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja defecate openly, because of the non-availability of public toilets, a report by the ministry of water resources has claimed.

Emmanuel Awe, director, Water Quality Control and Sanitation said the figure was based on a survey done by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and UNICEF on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) Norms.
Awe spoke at the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) Meeting with Head Teachers of Primary Schools in the Federal Capital Territory.
The NBS report also showed that no fewer than 47 million Nigerians are involved in open defecation and poor sanitation and Hygiene practices, with Nigerians in North Central in the lead.
Awe said the meeting with head teachers coincided with the efforts of the ministry to improve access to water and sanitation in the country.
“It is very sad from available data from WASH Norms that the north central part of the country has the largest population of open defecation practices, Abuja is part of it.
” It is worthy to note that we are all affected by open defecation practice one way or the other. Even if you don’t practice it, your driver, people around do it.So we must all rise up to change the culture of open defecation.”
The director said efforts of the Federal Government to end open defecation practice include the inauguration of the Open Defecation Free Roadmap by 2025, and the “Clean Nigeria, Use a Toilet” Campaign.
The WASH Ambassador, Ms Ebele Okeke, said sanitation and Hygiene are central to the health of children and the socio-economic development of the country.
She said the meeting was a call to action on the need for safe drinking water, basic sanitation and Hygiene.
She said no fewer than 50 per cent of schools lack sanitation facilities.
“It is clear that the challenges posed by Sanitation and Hygiene in schools can only be successfully addressed through the collaborative efforts of the parents and teachers of the children.
Okeke pledged the commitment of the WSSCC to continue to lead advocacy to scale up access to potable water and sanitation for the benefit of school children.

Friday, 17 May 2019

MTN Nigeria Signs 200 Bln 7-Yr Syndicated Facility With 7 Local Banks

MTN Nigeria has signed a 7-year 200 billion naira syndicated loan facility with a consortium of mostly local banks, the telecoms firm said on Friday.
In a statement to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the telecoms firm said the facility was coordinated by Citibank while Quantum Zenith acted as facility agent.
"The medium-term facility will enable MTN to fund its evolving business opportunities while assisting with capital expenditure and working capital, to deliver enhanced customer service," the telecoms firm said in the statement.
Ferdi Moolman, MTN chief executive said the facility signposts the company's confidence in Nigeria and local financial institutions.
"This facility expands our existing successful domestic debt programme which we are using to fund increased network capacity and the expansion of both the voice and data services on our network to customers in new areas," Moolman said.
He said the syndicated loan showcases the strength of the Nigerian financial institutions and their confidence in MTN's vision, as well as both parties joint ability to stimulate significant economic growth.
The loan syndication came a day after the local unit of South African telecoms firm was listed by introduction on the NSE with a total of 20.4 billion shares quoted at 90 naira per share.
The firm has since gained a cumulative of 20 percent in the two days of trading to close at 108.90 naira per share as investors demand for the telecoms firm's shares remains strong.


…MTN gains 20 % in 2-day trading after historical listing 
MTN Nigeria finally listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) Premium board on Thursday and became the second largest company on the main board of the local bourse.Before the listing of the MTN shares on the bourse, Dangote Cement majorly owned by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote controls a third of the market capitalization, while Nestle Plc occupied the second position.
The shares of the telecoms rallied on Friday by 10 percent, to close at 108.9 naira per share, the second of such gain after the company's shares were listed on the NSE.
MTN Nigerian listed a total of 20.4 billion shares quoted at 90 naira per share by introduction on the Premium Board of the NSE, with the aim of raising further capital on a later date through the Initial Public Offer (IPO).
The South African parent company currently controls about 78.8 percent of the stake in the Nigerian unit and hope to dilute further its holdings in the future.
The listing of the telecoms firm on the local bourse has been seen as an impetus to other telecoms firms and foreign companies to consider listing on the NSE.
The development will also boost the capitalisation of the market and help projects it further as a leading stock market on the continent.
With the expectations of possible listing by other telecoms firms, Nigeria stock market will soon overtake other major emerging markets in term of size.
If eventually, the telecoms giants make good its proposal to issue an IPO, this will further deepen the local capital market and encourage more offshore participation in the local market.
…Rising demand for local debt on Emefiele reappointment
Demand on fixed income increases in the week to Thursday as investors are responding to the reappointment of Godwin Emefiele as the CBN governor for a second term tenure of five years.
The Senate, which has the mandatory affirmation authority eventually confirmed the reappointment of Emefiele on Thursday.
Market dealers said the increasing appetite for fixed income assets by investors was a reflection of confidence in the extension of the tenure of the regulatory bank chief.
Yields on long tenor debt note are trending lower as pension fund managers, insurance and offshore investors lapped up available bonds in the secondary market.
Expectations of traders were that going by the trend in the market, the debt auction coming up next week will be oversubscribed by investors.
Nigeria plans to sell 100 billion naira in 5-, 7- and 30-year paper at an auction next week Wednesday.
The auction will be coming a day after the meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), which holds on Tuesday 21, to determine interest rate direction.
Traders are also anticipating an increase in yields at the bond auction next week in view of the rise in consumer inflation in the month of April.
Inflation figure released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistic (NBS) on Wednesday rose to 11.37 percent in April from 11.25 percent in the previous month as food inflation rises.
… Consumer inflation spike may hamstrung MPC next meetingAs the 11-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meets next week, there is an indication that the rate-setting body would retain the benchmark interest rate at 13.5 percent.
Before the NBS released the inflation figure for the month of April, expectations were that the MPC may likely continue to ease its hold on liquidity tightening tool.
However, with the inflation rising to 11.37 percent in April from 11.25 percent in March, the policymakers would definitely be hamstrung to tinker with the monetary control instrument.
Insiders said the spike in inflation rate was the market response to what was described as the premature slash in the MPR by the CBN at its March MPC meeting.
The MPC had in March slashed the benchmark rate to 13.5 percent from 14 percent to ease system liquidity and encourage banks to lend to the productive sector of the economy.
But a report by the bank has since shown that many banks are not showing interest in lending to the critical sector of the economy, rather they prefer investing their surplus funds in government debt instruments.
An increase in yields on the fixed income could boost inflow of foreign exchange into the country as offshore investors find attractive returns on their investment.
Presently, rates in both the Eurozone and the U.S. are quite low and any increase in yields on the domestic debt could be an attraction for more offshore investors to come into the market.
Economists are predicting a further rise in the inflation figure in the coming month, to be driven by both demand-pull and cost-push inflation factors.
According to Bismark Rewane, an economist, The commencement of planting season will result in food supply shortages while the minimum wage implementation and the Ramadan fast would increase consumer demand. All things being equal, the confluence of supply shortages and increased demand would exert pressure on prices.

Trump Plans Fresh Immigration Policy To Focus On ‘Merit’

Unveiling a new immigration plan, President Donald Trump said he wanted to provide a sharp contrast with Democrats, and he did — aiming to upend decades of family-based immigration policy with a new approach that favors younger, “totally brilliant,” high-skilled workers he says won’t compete for American jobs.
Trump’s sweeping immigration plan is more a campaign document than anything else. It’s a White House attempt to stretch beyond the “build-the-wall” rhetoric that swept the president to office but may not be enough to deliver him a second term. As Trump heads into reelection season, his campaign sees the plan as a way to help him look more reasonable on a signature issue than he often seems — and to cast Democrats as blocking him.
“Will the Democrats give our Country a badly needed immigration win before the election? Good chance!” Trump said in a tweet Friday.
In a Rose Garden speech attended by Republican lawmakers and members of his Cabinet, Trump insisted Thursday that his administration wants immigrants to come to the United States. “We cherish the open door,” he said.
Trump said his new system, with points given for those with advanced degrees, job offers and other attributes, will make it exactly “clear what standards we ask you to achieve.”
Nowadays, “we discriminate against genius,” he said, using a softer tone than his usual fiery campaign rallies. “We discriminate against brilliance. We won’t anymore once we get this passed.”
Even before the speech, Democrats, whose votes would be needed for any bill to be approved by the divided Congress, panned the effort and questioned the Republican Party’s commitment to families.
“Are they saying family is without merit?” asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Are they saying most of the people who’ve come to the United States in the history of our country are without merit because they don’t have an engineering degree?”
Pelosi continued: “Certainly we want to attract the best to our country.” But she said “merit” is a “condescending” word that means “merit in the eyes of Donald Trump.”
Trump’s new plan has been months in the making, a project of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been meeting privately with business groups, religious leaders and conservatives to find common ground among Republicans on an issue that has long divided the party.
Kushner has long complained that many advocates on the immigration issue are very clear about what they’re against, but have much more trouble articulating what they’re “for.” Kushner set out to create a proposal that Republicans might be able to rally around, his mission to give the president and his party a clear platform heading into the 2020 elections.
Trump didn’t mention his son-in-law’s work during the address but noted that the proposal wasn’t written by politicians. Instead, the president said it had input from law enforcement personnel. It also had echoes of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, who wants to push down the country’s immigration levels and has driven much of the administration’s policy.
With a humanitarian crisis at the border — officials said this week that a fourth child, a 2-year-old Guatemalan migrant, died in U.S. custody — Trump promised to halt illegal border crossings with the “most complete and effective border security package ever assembled.” He did not mention the child’s death.
As part of the plan, officials want to shore up ports of entry to ensure all vehicles and people are screened and to create a self-sustaining fund, paid for with increased fees, to modernize ports of entry.
The plan also calls for building border wall in targeted locations and continues to push for an overhaul to the U.S. asylum system, with the goal of processing fewer applications and more quickly removing people who don’t qualify.
In addition, the plan includes a proposal to allow public donations to pay for the president’s long-promised border wall.
The plan does not address what to do about the millions of immigrants already living in the country illegally, including hundreds of thousands of young “Dreamers” brought to the U.S. as children — a top priority for Democrats. Nor does it reduce overall rates of immigration, as Miller and many conservative Republicans would like.
Republicans in Congress who were briefed on the plan by Kushner and Miller earlier this week welcomed, but did not fully embrace, the approach. Some of those up for reelection, including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, objected to its failure to account for the young Dreamers. In Colorado, a Democrat running against GOP Sen. Cory Gardner blasted it as part of Trump’s “hateful” immigration agenda that would do nothing but “build Trump’s wall and keep families apart.”
“It’s obviously just a start,” said Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn, who will be among those running for reelection in 2020. “It’s a clear statement of what our immigration policy should be. ... We’re not eliminating family connections, it’s just adding an emphasis on merit.”
At its core, the proposal would fundamentally overhaul how the country for decades has approached immigration. The country has long placed a preference on providing green cards to family members of immigrants.
Under the Trump plan, the country would award the same number of green card as it now does, about 1 million annually. But far more would go to exceptional students, professionals and people with high-level and vocational degrees. Factors such as age, English language ability and employment offers would also be considered.
Far fewer green cards would be given to people with relatives already in the U.S. They would be reserved just for immediate family members — Trump mentioned spouses and children — rather than parents and adult siblings. Fifty-seven percent would be awarded on merit as opposed to the current 12 percent.
While Trump is seeking to put a softer facade on the top issue from his first campaign, he also is making a direct appeal to his supporters. He says his plan means fewer low-skilled immigrants will compete for low-paying American jobs.
“Our plan is pro-American, pro-immigrant and pro-worker,” Trump said, saying it contrasts with what he called Democrats’ support of “chaos.”
Efforts to overhaul the immigration system have gone nowhere for three decades, and prospects for an agreement seem especially bleak as the 2020 elections approach.
Lisa Koop, director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center, called Trump’s plan “a political stunt intended to posture rather than problem-solve.”
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for lower immigration rates, welcomed a “very positive effort” that was “undermined by the embrace of the current very high level of immigration.”

Nigerian Stock Exchange To Conclude Demutualisation This Year ~Onyema

The Nigerian Stock Exchange is the process of completing its demutualisation and become a publicly listed this year, its chief executive has said.
“We are shooting for this year for the demutualisation to be completed,” NSE chief executive Oscar Onyema said.
The exchange is the second-biggest in sub-Saharan Africa after Johannesburg, and a key conduit for investors looking for opportunities in Africa.
The listing process, known as demutualisation, has been in the works for years and required a law, signed by the president last year, in order to move forward.
According to Onyema, a public listing for the NSE would allow it to fully “modernise”, but that the practicalities were still being worked out.
“The decision hasn’t been made yet whether that capital raising will be an IPO or some other type of other form of capital raising,” he said.
Once demutualisation was completed, he said, the exchange would “give a very clear signal to the market on how we intend to proceed with that liquidity”.