NDIC Commences Closure Of 42 Microfinance Banks After CBN’s Directive

 

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has commenced the closure of 42 microfinance banks after a directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The NDIC had earlier on Friday announced on its website that the CBN has revoked the operating licences of 42 microfinance banks.

It confirmed to Channels Television on Monday that the closure of the banks has commenced.

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“This is to inform the depositors, creditors, shareholders, and the general public that the operating licenses of the under listed Forty-Two (42) Microfinance Banks (MFBs) have been revoked by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) effective 12th November 2020.

“The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), the Official Liquidator of the banks whose licenses were recently revoked, is in the process of closing the listed banks and pay their insured Depositors,” the NDIC statement read in part.

The NDIC, therefore, request that all depositors of these banks should visit the closed banks’ addresses and meet NDIC officials for the verification of their claims, commencing from Monday, 21st December 2020 till Thursday, 24th December 2020.

 

The affected banks are listed below:

1        HEDGEWORTH MFB  GUOBA PLAZA SUITE B06, – 171, A.E. EKUKINAM STREET, BY CHISCO, UTAKO, ABUJA

2        FUTURE GROWTH MFB REAL TOWER PLAZA, PLOT 1121 OBAFEMI AWOLOWO WAY, UTAKO, ABUJA

3        BAGWAI MFB BAGWAI-SHANONO ROAD, BAGWAI LGA, KANO

4        ERE CITY MFB  ERE-IJESHA/IIIAHUN ROAD, ERE-IJESHA, ORIADE LGA, OSUN

5        CAFON MFB GARKI POLICE BARRACKS, GARKII, FCT, ABUJA

6        AKCOFED MFB EKIT ITAM II (BESIDE WATER BOARD), P. O. BOX 2048, UYO, AKWA-IBOM STATE

7        GUFAX MFB N0. 3 UDOTUNG UBO STREET UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE

8        PARTNERSHIP MFB 107 UPPER IWEKA ROAD, ONITSHA, ANAMBRA STATE

9        ICB MFB    IIIAH-ASABA ROAD, OSHIMILI NORTH LGA, IIIAH, DELTA STATE

10      ONIMA MFB NIPOST BUILDING, EKEOCHA ONICHA, EZINIHITTE MBAISE LGA, IMO STATE

11      HOMETRUST (NATIONS) MFB 76, ORLU ROAD, NKWERE, IMO STATE

12      RINGIM MFB OPP. RINGIM CENTRAL MARKET, RINGIM, JIGAWA STATE

13      BIGTHANA MFB 6, ALI AKILU ROAD, KADUNA

14      ROGO MFB ROGO TOWN, ROGO LGA, KANO STATE

15      MAKODA MFB  NO 15, KOGUNA TOWN, MAKODA LGA, KANO

16      TAKAI MFB TAKAI TOWN, TAKAI LGA, KANO STATE

17      BEBEJI MFB NO. 10 GIDAN IYAN, BEBEJI TOWN, BEBEJI L.G.A., KANO STATE

18      AJINGI MFB NO. 10 HAKIMI STREET, AJINGI TOWN, AJINGI LGA, KANO STATE

19      GARKO MFB  3, GARKO TOWN, KANO

20      KANGIWA MFB KANGIWA TOWN, KANGIWA LGA, KEBBI STATE

21      AUGIE MFB  AUGIE TOWN, AUGIE LGA, KEBBI STATE

22      MOPA MFB  SILAS BAMIDELE DANIYAN HOUSE, KABBA-ILORIN ROAD, MOPA, KOGI-STATE

23      SOLID BASE MFB  EKIRIN ADDE, IJUMU LGA, KOGI STATE

24      ULTIMATE BENEFIT MFB  150C, OKENE KABBA ROAD, LOKOJA, KOGI

25      OVIDI MFB NO. 1, ATTA ROAD, OKENE, KOGI STATE

26      KIRFI MFB  KIRFI TOWN, KIRFI LGA, BAUCHI

27      CREDIT EXPRESS MFB  27, KAKAWA STREET, LAGOS

28      KING SOLOMON MFB GOD BLESS NIGERIA HOUSE, 117/119, WETSERN AVENUE, IPONRI, LAGOS

29      RIGGS MFB  PLOT 5, IMAN ABIB ADETORO STREET, OFF AJOSE ADEOGUN STREET, V.I., LAGOS

30      BILLIONAIRE BLUE BRICKS MFB APERIN HOUSE (2ND FLOOR) BLOCK I, PLOT 27, BUDO LAYOUT AJIWE, LEKKI EPE EXPRESSWAY, AJAH, LAGOS STATE

31      SUSU MFB  34, COMMERCIAL AVENUE SABO, YABA, LAGOS

32      WEALTHSTREAM MFB  AQUARIUS BLOCK, ELEGANZA PLAZA, GROUND FLOOR, LEFT WING 1 COMMERCIAL ROAD, APAPA, LAGOS

33      AGUDA TITUN MFB  21, SHONOLA STREET, AGUDA TITUN, OGBA, LAGOS

34      SAPPHIRE MFB 111, ABAK ROAD, UYO, AKWA IBOM STATE

35      METRO MFB  15, OTUNUBI STREET, OFF HARUNA, OGBA, IKEJA, LAGOS

36      MOUNTAIN TOP MFB PROGRESS BLOCK, SHOP A102, AFRICAN TYRE VILLAGE, OPP. APT TRADE FAIR COMPLEX, LAGOS/BADAGRY EXPRESSWAY, LAGOS

37      UNYOGBA MFB  1, ALOMA ROAD, OPP. MKT. SQ., EJULE, OFU LGA, KOGI STATE

38      WAPO MFB OKENE-LOKOJA ROAD, NAGAZI, ADAVI LGA, OKENE, KOGI STATE

39      IBOGUN MFB IBOGUN EGBEDA, IFO LGA, OGUN STATE

40      KOREDE MFB  NO. 3, LUWOYE STREET, IGBOTAKO, ONDO STATE

41      AHETOU MFB  26, EREMA ROAD, BYEPASS, AKABUKA, OGBA/EGBEMA/NDONI LGA, RIVERS STATE

42      FUFORE MFB  NO. 25 GURIN ROAD, FUFORE LGA, ADAMAWA, YOLA STATE

COVID-19 Donations: Court Allows Suit Against CBN For Non-Disclosure

File photo of the Federal High Court in Abuja

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted leave to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Human and Environmental Development Agenda Resource Centre to sue the Central Bank of Nigeria for failing to disclose detailed information on COVID donations requested from it in July this year.

Justice Inyang Ekwo granted the order following an ex parte application moved on Monday by the two applicants’ counsel, Joel Ekong.

The judge also ordered the applicants to file their substantive suit within seven days and serve same on the CBN within seven days after the filing.

He directed the CBN to file their response to the suit within 30 days of being served by the applicants.

In their exparte application, the applicants noted that it was reported that “about N15bn in monetary contributions, is currently in the account set up under the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID19 (CACOVID) and domiciled with the respondent”.

They, however, stated that they were “seriously concerned” that despite the donations,  “the larger proportion of Nigerians, including the poorest and the most vulnerable people, have not benefitted, up till now, from the Federal Government and private sectors announced palliatives, donations, cash payments, cash transfers and other benefits”.

The applicants stated that they had, in line with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, requested information on the COVID donations via their letter dated July 29, 2020 and delivered to the CBN on  August 8, 2020, as well as their reminder letter dated September 30, 2020 and delivered to the apex bank on October 2, 2020, all to no avail.

The applicants stated that they had quested, among other things, a comprehensive breakdown of financial donations received towards responding to the emergence of COVID 19 till date.

They also asked for dtailed list of the names of the donors – individual, corporate and international organisations, sources of the donations and the amount contributed by each of the individuals and corporate bodies.

They also asked the apex bank to provides the dates of every donation received by the CBN.

Their affidavit added, “That since the receipt of the two letters by the respondent and up till the time of filing of this suit, the respondent have so far failed, refused to grant the Applicants’ requests for information.

‘That this application, in accordance with the law and the rules of this honourable court, is seeking the leave of court to compel the respondent to urgently provide information sought by the applicants via its letter.

“That this suit is brought by the Applicants on major public concerns as it bothers on issue of national interest, public welfare, public interest, human rights, social justice, good governance, probity, transparency and accountability.”

The court in its ruling granted leave to the applicants to apply for judicial review and to seek an order declaring that the failure of the respondent to publish and provide comprehensive details of financial donations received towards responding to the emergence of COVID-19 till date, among others, was a breach of their right under the Freedom.of Information Act and African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

Diaspora Remittances: CBN Okays Dollar Withdrawals For Nigerians

CBN Plans $100m Sale At Special Auction
A file photo of US dollar notes.

 

Beneficiaries of Diaspora remittances through the international money transfer operators (IMTOs) can now receive inflows in dollars through designated banks of their choice, a circular by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said.

The latest development which was detailed in a circular by the bank on Monday was aimed at liberalising and improving receipt and administration of Diaspora remittances into Nigeria.

The circular, signed by the Central Bank’s Director of Trade and Exchange Department, Ozoemena Nnaji, said, “Such recipient of remittances may have the option of receiving these funds in foreign currency cash (US dollars) or into their ordinary domiciliary account.

The changes, according to him, are crucial as the apex bank seeks to deepen the foreign exchange market while providing more liquidity in the administration of diaspora remittances into Nigeria.

“In addition, these changes would help finance a future stream of investment opportunities for Nigerians in the Diaspora, while also guaranteeing that recipients of remittances would receive a market-reflective exchange rate for their inflows,” he said.

Based on the directive, the bank expects that all authorised dealers and the public will now have unlimited access and utilisation of such foreign currency either in cash or in their domiciliary accounts.

Nigeria’s Economy May Emerge From Recession In 2021 Q1, Says Emefiele

File photo of CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has predicted that the nation’s economy may emerge from recession in the first quarter of 2021.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who made the prediction on Friday during the 55th annual Bankers Dinner which held in Lagos, noted that the expected economic growth was two per cent.

“With the sustained implementation of our intervention measures, we do expect that the Nigerian economy could emerge from the recession by the first quarter of 2021,” he said.

“We also expect that growth in 2021 would attain 2.0 per cent. However, downside risks remain, as restoration of full economic activities, particularly in service-related sectors, remains uncertain until a COVID vaccine is produced and made available to millions of people across the world.

“Second, with the significant rise in cases in advanced markets and the imposition of lockdowns in parts of Europe, concerns remain on the impact this could have on growth in advanced economies, commodity prices and the financial markets.”

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The CBN governor also called for measures to “insulate our economy from the impact of these shocks through our diversification efforts, while also working to ensure that we adhere to safety protocols in order to prevent a surge in COVID-19 related cases, as this could further cripple economic activities.

“Our actions in 2021 would be guided by the considerations that emerged from the Monetary Policy Committee meeting of November 23 & 24, 2020, which sought to address the major headwinds exerting downward pressure on output growth and upward pressure on domestic prices.”

Emefiele’s remarks come six days after Nigeria’s economy slipped into another recession, the second of its kind in a space of four years.

According to a new report released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics on November 21, the economy shrank again in the third quarter of this year.

The nation’s economy maintained a second consecutive negative growth after contracting by 3.62 per cent in the third quarter.

The cumulative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first nine months of 2020, therefore, stood at -2.48 per cent just as it recorded a -6.10 per cent in the second quarter.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

Gov. Godwin Emefiele, CON

Address at the 55th Annual Bankers Dinner

Lagos, Nigeria

27 November 2020

_______________________________

(Protocols)

It is indeed a pleasure to once again address the banking community at the 55th Annual Bankers Dinner, being organized by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN). Since I assumed office as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in June 2014, I have attended 6 consecutive annual dinners by the CIBN. These dinners provide a significant opportunity for me to engage with stakeholders in the banking and finance community on events that are shaping our economy, and the policy measures being embarked upon by the Central Bank of Nigeria to support greater economic growth and continued stability of our financial system.

Let me at this juncture, specially thank the leadership of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria led by its President, Mr. Bayo Olugbemi. I appreciate Mr. Seye Awojobi and his team, for their efforts in putting this event together. I want to also extend my gratitude to the Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of our banks and other financial institutions who have found time to attend the conference despite their very busy schedules.

Likewise, I welcome my colleagues from the CBN, especially the Deputy Governors, and other senior management of the Bank who are present. And to everyone at this event whether in person or virtually, I would like to thank you for attending.

This dinner comes at a challenging time for our nation, taking into account the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy. In Nigeria, we had to address the public health challenge, in addition to implementing a variety of policy measures aimed at reversing the unprecedented downturn in economic activities during the first half of the year. The emerging reports on progress in developing a vaccine by several firms is indeed reassuring, as it indicates that a solution to the health challenge is in sight. It will also help to support growth in the medium term, by aiding full restoration of economic activities particularly in service related sectors such as education, aviation, hospitality and tourism.

In my remarks today, I hope to provide an assessment of the measures taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria in addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian economy, as well as our outlook on the path ahead.

Pre-COVID-19 Economy

As we are all aware, prior to the onset of the virus in December 2019, the Nigerian economy was on a positive growth trajectory, having made a significant recovery from the 2016-2017 recession, which was triggered by the drop-in commodity prices in 2016. Following the recession, we witnessed 12 consecutive quarters of economic expansion, and GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2019 stood at 2.55 percent. Our exchange rate remained stable for over two years at N360/$ and our external reserve witnessed significant accretions from the sale of crude oil and continued inflows from foreign investors.

Our banking system remained strong, as key indicators reflected improvements across several areas. Capital adequacy ratio for the banking industry was above 15 percent, surpassing the prudential requirement. The ratio of non-performing loans declined from 11 percent in April 2019 to less than 6.1 percent by January 2020. Our intervention efforts in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors continued to support employment generating activities and improved local production of goods that can be produced in Nigeria.

COVID 19

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of 2020, and the lockdown measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus, caused an unprecedented shock to the global economy. Global economic downturn, which was particularly significant in the second quarter of the year, saw declines in growth in advanced and emerging market countries, such as the  United States (-9.5 percent), United Kingdom (-20 percent), India (-24 percent) and South Africa (-17 percent). As a result, far-reaching measures were taken by fiscal and monetary authorities in advanced and emerging markets to stabilize their respective economies.

Like other economies, the Nigerian economy was not immune from the COVID-19 shock in 2020. Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by -3.4 percent in the third quarter, a welcome improvement from the – 6.1 percent recorded in the second quarter.

The negative rate of growth was due to a series of external factors in addition to the lockdown measures, imposed in order to curtail the spread of the virus. Some of the key constricting factors were: Crude Oil Restriction on global travel by land and air; along with the slowdown in commercial activities, led to a significant reduction in the demand for crude oil, which contributed to a 65 percent decline in crude oil prices between January and May 2020. The drop in crude prices, along with OPEC reduction of Nigeria’s production quota led to a significant decline in our foreign exchange earnings, along with a more than 60 percent decline in revenues due to the federation account.

Today, crude oil prices have recovered from its low of US$19 per barrel in April 2020 to US$45 per barrel in November 2020; but it is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels of over US$60 per barrel as at January 2020. GDP growth in the oil sector in the third quarter remained subdued due to the OPEC restrictions on oil output.

Restrictions on Movement GDP growth particularly in the manufacturing sector was significantly impacted by the restrictions on movement as many factories and businesses operated at limited capacity, in addition to a decline in demand for service-related activities, which require extensive in person contact, such as transportation, hospitality and tourism.

Global Supply Chains

Significant disruptions in domestic and global supply chains as a result of lockdown measures in key markets in Asia and Europe between March and May 2020, affected delivery of inputs and machinery to firms in Nigeria and this contributed to a slowdown in manufacturing activities. Some countries such as India and Vietnam imposed restrictions on the exports of vital materials in order to meet the needs of their local market. This challenge reinforces the need to build more resilient systems that can support our production needs in times of crisis.

Capital Flows

The impact of the pandemic and the resulting slowdown in economic activity, led to a significant outflow of funds from emerging market economies. Foreign investors withdrew over $100bn worth of funds from emerging markets between February and April 2020. These funds were  subsequently invested in safe haven assets such as US treasury bills and the Japanese Yen. The increase in outflows from emerging markets also led to a corresponding depreciation in the currencies of several emerging market countries such as Brazil (- 27.3%), Turkey(-35.1%), Argentina(-35%), Russia(-20%), Angola(-27%) and South Africa(-9%) year to date.

Exchange Rate

Like other emerging market countries andcountries reliant on oil exports, the decline in crude oil earnings as well as the retreat by foreign portfolio investors significantly affected the supply of foreign exchange into Nigeria. In order to adjust for the decrease in supply of foreign exchange, the naira depreciated from N305/$ to N360/$ and subsequently to N380/$. With the decline in our foreign exchange earnings and successive exchange rate adjustments, the CBN has continued to implement a demand management framework, which is designed to bolster the production of items that can be produced in Nigeria, and aid conservation of our external reserves.

Due to the unprecedented nature of the shock, we continued to favour a gradual liberalization of the foreign exchange market in order to smoothen exchange rate volatility and mitigate the impact which, rapid changes in the exchange rate could have on key macro-economic variables. This we believe is in line with international best practices in countries where managed float arrangements are in operation. At the same time, measures are being taken by the authorities to improve our non-oil exports and other sources of foreign exchange.

These measures have helped to prevent a significant decline in our reserves. Our external reserves currently stand above $35 billion and are sufficient to cover 7 months of import of goods and services. Inflation Inflationary pressure persisted during the year due to several factors. In addition to the disruption to global and domestic supply chains as a result of COVID-19, inflation was exacerbated by the increase in VAT rate, petroleum prices, electricity price adjustments, farmer-herder clashes, exchange rate adjustment, and flooding that occurred in many parts of our farm belt areas. Inflation in October 2020 stood at  14.2 percent. We however expect inflation to begin to moderate by the first half of 2021 as efforts are being made to enable significant cultivation and production of key staple items in the dry season.

Response by the Monetary and Fiscal Authorities

Given the impact on COVID-19 on key economic variables earlier mentioned, the fiscal and monetary authorities took unprecedented measures to prevent any long-term damage to the growth prospects of our economy. Our first objective was to restore stability to the economy by providing assistance to households and businesses that had been severely affected by the pandemic. In addition, we sought to stimulate economy activity through targeted interventions in critical sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, electricity and construction. Cumulatively our intervention efforts represent about 3.5 percent of Nigeria’s GDP. Some of these measures we took include:

  1. A cumulative reduction of the monetary policy rate from 13.5 to 11.5 percent between May and September 2020 in order to spur lending to the economy.
  2. A 1-year extension of the moratorium on principal repayments for CBN intervention facilities;

iii. Regulatory Forbearance was granted to banks to restructure loans given to sectors that were severely affected by the pandemic

  1. Reduction of the interest rate on CBN intervention loans from 9 to 5 percent
  2. Strengthening of the Loan to Deposit ratio policy, which has resulted in a significant rise in loans provided by financial institutions to banking customers. Total gross credit rose by over 21 percent over the past year, from N15.5 trillion to N19.54 trillion. In addition, over N738 billion has been provided as credit to manufacturing related activities by the banks.
  3. Creation of N150 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) for affected households and small and medium enterprises through the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank. Already, N149.21 billion has been disbursed to 316,869 beneficiaries. Given the resounding success of this program and its positive impact on output growth, we have decided to double this fund to about N300 billion, so as to accommodate many more beneficiaries and boost consumer expenditure which should positively impact output growth.

vii. The Bank also disbursed AgriBusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) (N92.90 billion to 24,702 beneficiaries), Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP) by the sum of N164.91 billion to 954,279 beneficiaries.

viii. Mobilization of key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy through the Coalition against COVID19(CACOVID), which led to the provision of over N28bn in relief  materials to affected households, and the set-up of 39 isolation centers across the country.

  1. Creation of a NGN100 billion intervention fund in loans to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners intending to expand and strengthen the capacity of our healthcare institutions; so far 60 health care related projects are being funded to the tune of over N60 billion as a result of the intervention.
  2. Creation of a research fund, which is designed to support the development of vaccines in Nigeria.
  3. Establishment of a N1 trillion facility in loans to boost local manufacturing and production across critical sectors; 53 major manufacturing projects, 21 agriculture related projects and 13 service projects are being funded to the tune of over N360 billion from this facility.

Results of our interventions

The impact of these measures along with the removal of restrictions on movement and resumption of international travel, led to improvement in key indicators of the economy, as several economic activities returned to positive growth.

A sectoral assessment of economic activities in the third quarter indicates that the economy witnessed positive growth in key sectors such as Information and Communications Technology, Agriculture, Health, Construction, Finance and Insurance and Public Administration. The Agricultural sector continued to record positive growth supported by productivity gains in the sector, interventions by the government, and improved demand for local produce.

The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, in the month of November stood at 50.2 points, indicating an expansion in manufacturing activities after six months of contraction. A total of 18 sectors recorded positive growth in the third quarter relative to 13 sectors in the second quarter, which reflects significant improvement in economic activity.

Furthermore, 36 out of the 46 economic activities tracked by NBS, reflected positive improvements in growth, which includes activities that recorded negative growth.

In the Investors and Exporters Window, close to $150m is being traded daily as a result of our measures to sanitize activities in the foreign exchange market. In addition, the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share index rose by 65 percent between April and November 2020, reflecting improved sentiments by investors on the fundamentals of publicly listed companies. As a result of these measures, GDP growth in the third quarter, improved to -3.6 percent from -6.1 percent in quarter two, even though the economy fell back into a recession. We however expect that Nigeria would emerge from the recession by the first quarter of 2021, due to high frequency data that indicates continued improvements in the non-oil sector of our economy.

Financial System Stability

With the decline in economic activities, the CBN instituted measures in the banking system, in order to prevent an economic crisis from spilling over into a financial crisis.

Inaction on our part would have led to a wave of bankruptcies by firms along with rising unemployment, which would ultimately have a significant impact on the balance sheet of banks. As a result, we ensured that;

  1. Banks made adequate capital provisions to cover for unexpected losses
  2. We supported viable businesses that had been affected by the pandemic through access to our intervention funds

III. We enabled banks to restructure loans granted to sectors affected by the

pandemic. As a result of these measures, NPL ratios has remained low at 5.7 percent. The capital adequacy ratio of the banking industry, at 15.5 percent, remains above the prudential requirement percent. In addition, return on earnings in the banking sector was over 21 percent as at October 2020. Similarly, Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) recorded a remarkable improvement as aggregate assets grew by N582 billion, or 16.94 per cent (year-on-year), to N4.02 trillion as at end-September 2020.

While the news of the continued growth in the banking and finance sector in the third quarter of the year is encouraging, the ultimate strength of our financial system would depend on three key factors;

  1. Ensuring that banks have adequate capital buffers to withstand similar pandemics.
  2. Developing adequate internal controls that will be able to identify potential risks to banks, such as cyber threats, as well as putting in place measures to contain these risks.

III. Being able to adapt your business model to changes taking place in the business environment.

This last point is vital as COVID-19 has demonstrated the impact externally induced disruptions could have on the Nigerian economy. It is therefore imperative from an economic as well as a security perspective, that the banking and financial system works to support growth in sectors that have significant growth potential, and can enhance the resilience of the Nigerian economy, in the face of external shocks.

Outlook

With sustained implementation of our intervention measures, we do expect that the Nigerian economy could emerge from the recession by the first quarter of 2021. We also expect that growth in 2021 would attain 2.0 percent. However, downside risks remain, as restoration of full economic  activities, particularly in service related sectors, remains uncertain until a COVID vaccine is produced and made available to millions of people across the world.

Second, with the significant rise in cases in advanced markets and the imposition of lockdowns in parts of Europe, concerns remain on the impact this could have on growth in advanced economies, commodity prices and the financial markets.

We must therefore find ways to insulate our economy from the impact of these shocks through our diversification efforts, while also working to ensure that we adhere to safety protocols in order to prevent a surge in COVID-19 related cases, as this could further cripple economic activities.

Our actions in 2021 would be guided by the considerations that emerged from the Monetary Policy Committee meeting of November 23 & 24, 2020, which sought to address the major headwinds exerting downward pressure on output growth and upward pressure on domestic prices.

Given the fact that the rise in inflation is not due to monetary factors but rather the prevalence of structural rigidities and supply shocks, traditional tools of monetary policy may not be helpful in addressing current inflationary pressures. Rather, a more useful policy will be the supply-side measures implemented by the Bank. As a result, emphasis will be placed on strengthening the development finance initiatives of the CBN in order to stimulate greater production and reduce unemployment.

We intend to increase our support for measures that will aid improve cultivation of local produce in Nigeria, with particularly emphasis on improving our yield levels, as food inflation continues to remain the key driver of inflationary trends.

The banking sector therefore has a significant role to play as a facilitator of growth in the agriculture sector, through its intermediation function. Some of the opportunities in the agriculture sector that banks should explore include ways to address some of the existing gaps in the agriculture value chains, such as storage centers, transport logistics, and technology  platforms, that can enable rural farmers to sell their produce directly to the markets. These measures would help to improve productivity of farmers, reduce post-harvest losses, increase access to finance for farmers and improve sourcing of local raw materials for processing by manufacturing and industrial firms. It will also aid improved production of local goods, enable the creation of jobs, while supporting the growth of other sectors of our economy such as manufacturing, and transportation.

Information Communication Technology

Another sector which has emerged as a significant source of resilience in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, has been Information and Communications  Technology (ICT). In the third quarter of 2020, the ICT sector made contributions of over 17.8 percent to GDP growth, 47 percent higher than its contributions a year earlier.

The growth of startups in the fintech and health care space rose in response to the pandemic. It is important that we leverage ICT as an enabler for growth in key sectors of the economy.

ICT start-ups are emerging to support SMEs, farmers, and in providing quality learning to students. It is important that the banking sector consider viable IT firms in these areas that have the potential to not only serve the needs of the local market but are also able to export ICT related services to countries across the world. India for example exports close to a $100bn worth of ICT related  services every year and I believe that our ICT industry can make significant contributions to our export earnings.

The Central Bank recently issued Payment Service Banks licenses to 3 firms as part of our efforts to drive financial inclusion and ensure that majority of Nigerian citizens are banked. The Payment Service Banks, along with Mobile Money Operators and Banks are expected to leverage ICT channels in improving penetration of digital financial services and products to Nigerians. Driving sustainable growth of our economy would require that the banking industry, support the growth of ICT firms that are inclined to improve productivity across key sectors in the economy.

Infrastructure Finance

Another critical area that the banking sector ought to consider for stable growth of our economy is Infrastructure Finance. With the decline in revenues due to federal and state government as a result of the drop in crude oil prices, alternative ways of funding infrastructure are critical if we are to generate sustained growth of our economy. As we are all aware, the cost of logistics is often seen as a significant impediment to the growth of businesses in the country.

A well-built infrastructure system, comprising hard infrastructure such as roads and ports, and soft infrastructure such as broadband penetration, can have a multipliereffect on growth by enabling the expansion of business activities in the country. We believe that a well-structured infrastructure fund can act as a catalyst for growth in the medium and the long run. The support of the banking community will be important in achieving this objective.

Conclusion

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in concluding my remarks, let me assure all Nigerians that the Monetary and Fiscal authorities are alive to their responsibilities to restore the economy back to recovery.

At this point, I would like to seize this opportunity to appeal to Nigerians, particularly our Media Economic Analysts.

We confess that the problem we face today is of a global dimension. The global economy is challenged, just like the Nigerian economy. My appeal to our media analysts  is that in the course of conducting their analysis of the Nigerian economy, they should realize that their public comments particularly if they are alarmist, create panic in our environment. We cherish their counsel but urge that they be more constructive in their pungent criticisms, which could hamper our efforts to return our country and economy back to recovery. When you overdramatize the problem, you create panic that slows the process of recovery.

While COVID-19 has brought on several challenges to our economy and indeed the banking sector, it offers a unique opportunity for us to build a more resilient economy that is better able to contain external shocks, whilst supporting growth and wealth creation in key sectors of our economy. Proactive steps on the part of stakeholders in the banking and financial system in supporting the growth of sectors such as agriculture, ICT and infrastructure, will strengthen our ability to deal with the challenges that have been brought on by COVID-19 while enabling the growth of our economy in general.

I thank you for your attention.

Godwin I. Emefiele (CON)

Governor

Central Bank of Nigeria

27th November 2020

 

Gowon Dismisses Allegation Of Looting CBN, Asks UK Lawmaker To Check His Record

A file photo of former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon.

 

Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has dismissed the allegations of money laundering levelled against him by a member of the United Kingdom parliament.

The elder statesman condemned the claims in an interview with Channels Television on Thursday, three days after the UK lawmaker, Tom Tugendhat, accused him of looting half of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He stated that it was disappointing that a British parliamentarian could make such a statement without checking the facts.

“It is certainly surprising, and I am disappointed that a British parliamentarian could make such a statement without checking the facts of what he was saying.

“I honestly was disappointed that such a remark is made,” the former Nigerian leader told Channels Television London correspondent via telephone.

He insisted that there was no time when he was held or questioned for money laundering, stressing that the allegation that he looted the nation’s treasury was false.

Check My Record

General Gowon, who said he heard about the allegation from social media, insisted that there was nothing to hide and the record was there for the lawmaker and the British authorities to check.

He also called on the UK government to take the necessary step to order, stressing that making an allegation of such was an insult to him and Nigeria as a nation.

[READ ALSO] #EndSARS: UK Parliament Does Not Speak For British Govt – FG


Watch the video of the UK parliament’s deliberation to which the Nigerian government is reacting below:


The former Head of State said, “The record of my service to the nation is there for everybody to see and even the British government itself, and I don’t know why somebody got the information to make such a very ridiculous statement.

“I am disappointed with that one and I hope the British authority will do something to rightly bring that parliamentarian to order to check his facts before he makes such allegation because it is more or less an insult to the leadership of Nigeria and certainly an insult to me to say that I did something of the sort to take half of Nigeria’s Central Bank and I must have put it in a British bank.”

“So, he should check all the British banks to see whether any such thing has happened, and he (the UK lawmaker) will be surprised that I was not being held for money laundering,” he added.

General Gowon, 86, served as the Head of State from 1966 to 1975.

Tugendhat had accused General Gowon and some other leaders in Nigeria of robbing the people during a debate on a petition on #EndSARS at the UK parliament.

He also alleged that the leaders ran to London to hide the loots, adding that British banks were used for illegal transfer of assets.

Economic Recession: CBN Retains Key Lending Rates

 

The Monetary Policy Committee has retained key lending rates at 11.5%.

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, announced this on Tuesday, saying it is part of efforts to boost the economy towards a sustainable recovery from the recession.

“Members voted in line with the most pressing need towards reversing the recession and achieving medium-term macro-economic stability.

“In view of the fore-going, the committee decided by a unanimous vote to retain all parameters,” Emefiele said.

“In summary, MPC voted 1, to retain MPR at 11.5%, (2), retain asymmetric corridor of +100 and -700 basis points around the MPR, (3) retain Cash Reserve Ratio at 27.5% and (4), retain liquidity ratio at 30%.”

This comes days after a new report released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, showed that Nigeria had slipped into another recession after the economy shrank in the third quarter of this year.

Read Also: Again, Nigeria’s Economy Slips Into Recession

The same happened in 2016, making it the second recession in a space of four years.

The cumulative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first nine months of 2020, therefore, stood at -2.48 per cent just as it recorded a -6.10 per cent in the second quarter.

According to Emefiele, the recession was anticipated and measures had been put in place to manage its impact.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on Monday, said the country will exit recession by the first quarter of 2021.

16 #EndSARS Campaigners Ask Court To Unfreeze Accounts

A photo combination showing #EndSARS protesters during a candlelight procession in honour of victims of police brutality and a court gavel.

 

Sixteen #EndSARS campaigners have asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to reverse the restriction placed on their accounts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The CBN had frozen the accounts of 20 #EndSARS campaigners through an ex-parte order obtained from Justice Ahmed Mohammed to back his action.

In a supporting affidavit, the apex bank had also alleged that the #EndSARS campaigners may have received their funding through acts of terrorism and asked the judge to swiftly freeze the accounts.

However, 16 of the affected persons filed a motion on Thursday through their lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), to set aside the order.

The 16 applicants include Bolatito ‘Rinu’ Oduala, who is a member of the panel set up by the Lagos State Government to look into police brutality, Chima Ibebunjoh, Mary Kpengwa, Saadat Bibi, Bassey Israel, Wisdom Obi, Nicholas Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Yusuf, Uhuo Promise, Mosopefoluwa Odeseye, Adegoke Pamilerin, Umoh Ekanem, Babatunde Segun, Mary Oshifowora and Idunnu Williams.

While contending that the freezing of their bank accounts was an act of illegality, they stressed that the CBN Governor, Ifeanyi Emefiele froze the accounts before approaching the court much later for a freezing order.

They also argued that the court order permitting Emefiele to freeze their accounts for 90 days was a violation of their right to fair hearing under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

The #EndSARS campaigners argued that Justice Mohammed’s 90-day freezing order violated Order 26 Rules 5, 10 and 11(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2019, which prescribes a maximum of 14 days for the validity of an ex parte order.

Faulting their being labelled as terrorist by the CBN governor, the #EndSARS campaigners said the CBN was neither one of the investigating nor prosecuting agencies recognised under the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 and the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act, 2013.

Marshal Abubakar, who deposed to an affidavit filed in support of the suit, said the claimants’ accounts were frozen in October by CBN without any justification as the bank provided no evidence to back its terrorism claim.

He added that all the persons whose accounts were frozen had never been arrested for any crime before, adding that they were only protesters whose right to protest was recently reiterated by President Muhammadu Buhari.

‘I Don’t See Anything Wrong With It’: Akeredolu Backs Freezing Of EndSARS Protesters Accounts

A file photo combination of #EndSARS protesters and a court gavel.

 

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has defended the freezing of bank accounts belonging to #EndSARS promoters and believes the action is not a conclusion the accounts were used to sponsor acts of treason.

“Speaking very honestly, I don’t see anything wrong in it,” the governor who doubles as the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum said on Wednesday in the latest edition of Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“If for instance, my account was frozen, what would I do? All I would do is go back to court to explain. Even politicians, their accounts are sometimes frozen. You have to go to court and explain. And at the end of the day, the court will say, ‘Leave the account. The account should be de-frozen’ and you take your money back.”

READ ALSO: Activist Sues Sam Adeyemi, Burna Boy, 48 Others Over Role In #EndSARS Protests

Although some social commentators and members of the public have described the action of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as an abuse of power, the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said the protesters must explain the flow of funds into their accounts.

A file photo of #ENDSARS protesters.

 

“If your account is frozen, you justify why the money was there. You come to explain to what use you have put this money,” Akeredolu, who in October defeated Eyitayo Jegede to win a second term in office, explained.

“If it is that ‘Okay, we used this money to pay this caterer to give food to these boys when they were there. We spent money before the hoodlums took over,’ it will be explained, people will know and the accounts will be de-frozen.”

Akeredolu equally downplayed insinuations that the protesters are being charged for a treasonable offence.

“It is just that we (CBN) suspected this account then the owner of the account will explain,” he said, noting stressing that it “is not a conclusion that those accounts were used for acts of treason.”

CBN Secures Order

A federal high court in Abuja on Friday last week granted the request of the CBN to freeze the accounts of 19 individuals and a public affairs company linked to the #EndSARS protests.

The request, granted by Justice Ahmed Mohammed, was filed by the CBN on October 20.

Some of the affected individuals include Bolatito Racheal Oduala, Chima David Ibebunjoh, Mary Doose Kpengwa, Saadat Temitope Bibi, Bassey Victor Israel, Wisdom Busaosowo Obi, Nicholas Ikhalea Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Lanre Yusuf, Uhuo Ezenwanyi Promise and Mosopefoluwa Odeseye.

READ ALSO: ‘Who Sent This Guy?’: Sam Adeyemi, Others Respond To Lawsuit Against #EndSARS Protesters

Others are Adegoke Pamilerin Yusif. Umoh Grace Ekanem, Babatunde Victor Segun, Mulu Louis Teghenan, Mary Oshifowora, Winifred Akpevweoghene Jacob, Victor Solomon, Idunu A. Williams, and Gatefield Nigeria Limited.

#EndSARS protesters during a candlelight procession in honour of victims of police brutality.

 

The court order addressed to the head offices of Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank Nigeria, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank of Africa, and Zenith Bank, directed the banks to freeze forthwith all transactions on the 20 accounts on the list annexed to the CBN’s application as Exhibit A and all other bank accounts of the defendants/respondents for a period of 180 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Gatefield Nigeria Limited had earlier sued Access Bank Plc for allegedly blocking an account used to promote media coverage of the #EndSARS protests.

 

Court Grants CBN’s Request To Freeze Accounts Of 19 #EndSARS Protesters

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A federal high court in Abuja has granted the request of the Central Bank of Nigeria to freeze the accounts of 19 individuals and a public affairs company linked to the #EndSARS protests, Channels Television learned on Friday.

The request, granted by Justice Ahmed Mohammed, was filed by the CBN on October 20.

Some of the affected individuals include Bolatito Racheal Oduala, Chima David Ibebunjoh, Mary Doose Kpengwa, Saadat Temitope Bibi, Bassey Victor Israel, Wisdom Busaosowo Obi, Nicholas Ikhalea Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Lanre Yusuf, Uhuo Ezenwanyi Promise and Mosopefoluwa Odeseye.

Others are: Adegoke Pamilerin Yusif. Umoh Grace Ekanem, Babatunde Victor Segun, Mulu Louis Teghenan, Mary Oshifowora, Winifred Akpevweoghene Jacob, Victor Solomon, Idunu A. Williams, and Gatefield Nigeria Limited.

The court order, addressed to the head offices of Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank Nigeria, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank of Africa, and Zenith Bank, directed the banks to freeze forthwith all transactions on the 20 accounts on the list annexed to the CBN’s application as Exhibit A and all other bank accounts of the defendants/respondents for a period of 180 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Gatefield Nigeria Limited had earlier sued Access Bank Plc for allegedly blocking an account used to promote media coverage of the #EndSARS protests.

Photos: #EndSARS Protesters Block CBN Headquarters Abuja

Photo: Channels Television/Sodiq Adelakun.

 

#EndSARS protesters on Sunday blocked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) headquarters, calling for an end to police brutality and extrajudicial killings. 

The protest which has lasted over 10 days is also holding in other parts of the country with the protesters vowing not to leave the streets until their demands are met.

Although the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu had disbanded the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the wake of the protests, the agitation has continued to gain traction across the country.

They have rejected the new tactical unit –  Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) –  formed by the police authorities to replace SARS, saying there is no difference between the former and the latter.

Below are photos of the protesters at the CBN headquarters in Abuja:

Photo: Channels Television/Sodiq Adelakun.

 

CBN Reduces Monetary Policy Rate To 11.5%

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria has cut the Monetary Policy Rate from 12.5 per cent to 11.5 per cent.

Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele announced this on Tuesday while presenting a communiqué after the two-day Monetary Policy Committee Meeting in Abuja.

The MPC, however, opted to retain the Cash Reserve Ratio at 27.5 per cent and the liquidity ratio at 30 per cent.

“In the face of declining economic growth and rise in inflation, committee faced a difficult set of policy choices requiring trade-offs and sequencing,” he said.

According to Emefiele, reducing the MPR will put pressure on the deposit money banks to lower cost of credit and the cheaper credit will improve demand, stimulate production, reduce unemployment and support the recovery of output growth.

PHOTOS: INEC Distributes Electoral Materials For Edo Poll

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on September 17, 2020 distributes sensitive materials for the Edo State governorship election slated for Saturday.

 

Less than 48 hours to the Edo State governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has begun the distribution of sensitive electoral materials for the exercise.

Channels Television learned that the sensitive materials are kept in the Central Bank of Nigeria in Benin City, awaiting onward distribution.

There is also a heavy security presence comprising officials of the Nigeria Army, the Nigeria Police Force among others.

See Photos Below: