Mr Adetokunbo Kayode, President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), has called for a refocused and stronger economic ties between Nigeria and India.
Kayode made the call on Tuesday in Abuja while speaking as a panelist at the webinar meeting tagged: “India – Nigeria Business Promotion, Challenges and Opportunities – Post-COVID-19”.
Kayode, an economic expert, noted that in a rejigged relationship, win-win situation should be the watchword.
He said that it had been informally estimated that there would be around 10 billion dollars of investment by Indian companies in Nigeria.
“Maybe very substantial part of that amount has been loaned to Indian companies by Nigerian government owned banks like, Bank of Industry, Nigeria Exim Bank, Development Bank of Nigeria, NIRSAL FUND of the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as commercial banks.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on the relationship between the two countries, especially on medical tourism, which is one of the key areas.
“Some of us attended schools that Indians were teachers. For us to move forward, we need to rejig the already existing obsolete 1973 Trade Agreement between Nigeria and India.
“In doing so, we have to bear in mind that Nigeria has several areas where it can do business with India,” he said.
According to him, if Nigeria is ready to use Indian technology then, India should also help Nigeria to diversify its economy into agriculture, mining, manufacturing, amongst others.
He recalled that in Great Gujarat gathering in 2019, it was discovered that several Indian companies were rather using Indian firms in Nigeria to carry out activities in a manner that undermined local legislations, particularly in trading in retail and distribution services.
On the challenges in the trade relations, Kayode pointed out that the absence of Indian manufacturing hubs in Africa and Nigeria, in particular, as well as intrusion into local businesses needed to be addressed to strengthen the ties.
In a remark, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Abbay Thakur, said Nigeria was one of Indian’s biggest trading partners for several years.
He highlighted on some of the activities of Indian companies in Nigeria in several sectors cutting across agriculture, power, technology, automobile, health and pharmaceuticals, among others.
Other participants at the event unanimously expressed the desire to actively participate in activities and programmes that would ensure the sustainability of the already existing cordial relationship.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
The Federal Government has extended the gradual easing of the lockdown by two weeks across the nation from May 18 to June 1.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari took the decision based on the recommendations of the PTF.
NAN reports that President Buhari had on April 27, announced a “phased and gradual easing” of the lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states, while declaring a nationwide curfew with effect from May 4.
The President also ordered a ban on all inter-state movements..
The Chairman said:” while some objectives were met, the PTF assessment showed that non-compliance was rampant but the PTF nevertheless continued to persuade the populace through its messaging and daily briefing, on the need to take responsibility”.
Mustapha said that this would be accompanied by a corresponding development of infrastructure and other public health measures to be undertaken in every community and at every phase of the response.
According to him, these include: surveillance, case finding, testing, isolation, tracing and quarantining contacts.
“The measures, exemptions, advisories and scope of entities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased locked down, shall be maintained across the federation for another two weeks effective from midnight today May, 18 2020 to June, 1, 2020.
“Intensifying efforts to “tell (communicate), trace (identify) and treat (manage)’ cases; elevating the level of community ownership of non-pharmaceutical interventions and maintain the existing lockdown order in Kano for an additional two weeks.
“Imposition of precision lockdown in states, or in metropolitan/high-burden LGAs, that are reporting a rapidly increasing number of cases, when the need arises.
“This would be complemented with the provision of palliatives and continued re-evaluation of the impact of the interventions.
“Aggressive scale up of efforts to ensure that communities are informed, engaged and participating in the response with enhanced public awareness in high risk states,” he stated.
He said that the PTF considered it important to let Nigerians know that it relied largely on science, statistics, lessons learnt from other parts of the world and an evaluation of the peculiar circumstances to draw its conclusions on the outcome of the last two weeks.
“For example, our surveillance, infection prevention and control activities identified nine high burden local government areas in the federation reporting high number of cases and accounting for 51 per cent of the total number of infections in the country.
“All the nine are densely populated local government areas nationwide.
“We have also seen that though Nigeria’s caseload still lags behind several other countries, our large population and relatively high degree of mobility and urbanization, 50 per cent, places us at an increased risk for high transmissibility.
“Therefore, our consideration of ease of restrictions has to balance lives and livelihoods and the slow and gradually phased approach should be science and data driven,” he noted.
He said, that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria was still not ready for a full reopening of its economy. “Gradual easing of lockdown is extended by additional two weeks”.
“Achieving the foregoing objectives was predicated on adherence to the guidelines issued by the PTF COVID-19, adaptation and cooperation by the States, ownership by communities as well businesses, professional bodies, labour leaders, faith-based organisations, traditional rulers and particularly, individuals taking responsibility.
“The PTF continued to assess the level of compliance with the guidelines which came into effect on May 4, 2020.
“While emphasising ownership, we consistently shared some aspects of the assessment during our daily national briefings pointing in the general direction of non-compliance,” he said.
The SGF said nevertheless, the task force was pleased that the measures put in place yielded sufficient progress that requires consolidation to ensure that the health system and economy were in a position to adequately respond to any potential outcomes in the future; including a secondary outbreak.
He said that the gradual re-opening of the economy has been sign-posted by the controlled opening, and increased access to markets and supermarkets, banks and other income yielding activities for the vulnerable population.
Mustapha said similarly, corporations and government offices partially opened their operations and services so as to facilitate the activities of other sectors.
He noted that some manufacturing, construction and allied sectors also resumed.
“All these sectors ensured that adequate infection mitigation measures were put in place,” he said.
Mustapha said that in recognition of the global impact of COVID-19 on economies and the need to stimulate and positively turn around the Nigerian’s economy, the Federal Government has been implementing various stimulus packages offered to businesses and state Governments through the CBN.
“Reduction of interest rates from nine percent to five percent for all CBN intervention facilities,
“Restructuring of loans to longer tenors for all companies whose businesses are adversely impacted by COVID-19.
“N100 billion facility to Pharmaceutical and health sectors companies to retool their businesses.
“N1 trillion facility to Agric and Manufacturing companies to expand and set up new factories.
“Suspension of repayment of all state governments’ loans for one year to give states ample financing room to pay salaries,” he stated.
The SGF said that within the two weeks of phase one of the eased lockdown, the following accomplishments were also recorded:
“Increase in the number of laboratories in the COVID-19 network from 15 to26
“Additional 15, 558 tests were conducted in the country (with a cumulative total of 35,098 tests and the number of tests per million increasing from 50 to 154.
“Increase in the number of trained personnel to 11, 409 health workers thereby boosting capacity for case management.
“Procurement and distribution of additional personal protective equipment and ventilators across the country.
“The doubling time of the virus has slowed down from seven days to 11 days;
“The number of beds available for isolation and case management increased from 3, 500 to 5, 000 beds nationwide.
“The efficiency of the identification, testing, evacuation, and isolation process for confirmed cases has increased; and progressive improvement in capacity of the health system to respond to the outbreak,” he stated.
The SGF said that the PTF-COVID-19 remained highly appreciative of the efforts of the private sector, public spirited Nigerians, corporate organisations, the armed forces, intelligence and security community, the media, as well as the International Community for their unquantifiable support in the battle against the COVID-19.
“The response has been overwhelming and encouraging. The office of the Accountant General of the Federation introduced the transparency dimensions in the management of certain components of financial donations by publishing the receipts in the newspapers.
“In addition, explained the processes for other components so that Nigerians can be assured that accountability remains the hallmark of this administration and the PTF.
“All monies donated are safe and secure and would be judiciously utilised and accounted for,” he noted.
“The transmission of the virus under control: Measures put in place have collectively slowed down the transmission of the Virus e.g. elongating the doubling time which has changed from seven to 11 days.
“The healthcare system equipped to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every person who came in contact with a positive case.
“Health care system has been better equipped to detect, test, isolate and treat every case, and trace every person who came into contact with a positive case with the increase in the number of laboratories from 15 to 26; ramping up of testing to a cumulative total of 35,098.
“Are outbreaks minimized in special settings like health facilities and Nursing homes?
“Though we have recorded infection of a number of medical personnel in our facilities, which is not peculiar to Nigeria, we have increased their training in care management and provided additional Personnel Protective Equipment.
“Are there measures in workplaces and schools to prevent the spread of the virus?
“With the gradual reopening of workplaces, markets, schools, etc, prescriptions have been made for the prevention of infection and spread of the virus.
“Are the risks of importing more cases from outside the country being managed?
“The risks associated with importation has been seriously minimized with the ban on flights, closure of borders and the mandatory 14 days quarantine for any one arriving Nigeria.
“Are local communities educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the ‘new norm’”
“Engagement with communities and other stakeholders has now become the new focus of our strategy,” he stated.
He noted that this was further underscored by the fact that no vaccine is expected till around the end of 2021.
“Nigeria is not where we wish to be in terms of control, ownership, infrastructure and change of behavior. We must do more.
“We hinted about the refocusing of our policy on community ownership. Going forward, we shall intensify the mobilization of individuals, especially the communities to take ownership of this fight,” he said.
Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)
Sen. Yahaya Abdullahi, the Senate Leader, on Thursday distributed N12 million cash, 300 bags of rice and 1,200 clothing materials to members of his constituency as palliative.
Presenting the money and other items to six Local Government Chairmen in Bagudu, Bagudu Local Government Area, the lawmaker described the intervention as a palliative support to his constituents.
Abdullahi, who was represented by his Personal Assistant in-charge of Domestic Affairs, Alhaji Sanusi Abubakar, pledged to identify with the people at all times.
“It is my desire to ensure that everyone is supported in one way or the other,” he said.
The lawmaker added that the gesture was meant to complement government efforts in curtailing the difficulties caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
“The senate members are working hard by making laws that will reduce the suffering of the masses,” he said, assuring that they are putting efforts to ensure sanity on the current situation in the country.
“As you can see here, this is the N12 million cash, 300 bags of rice as well as 1,200 clothing materials to be distributed to the six Local Government Areas under Kebbi North Senatorial District,” he said.
The senate leader urged those saddled with the responsibility of distribution to ensure that the beneficiaries were vulnerable families in each of the communities.
He assured that the disbursement of N40 million loan scheme initiated by him would be ongoing.
“The ongoing Mallamawan Kebbi Farmers N40m Loan Scheme Programme initiated and introduced in collaboration with the NIRSAL MICROFINANCE BANK is ongoing across the six Local Governments under my constituency.
“I want to urge the beneficiaries to work hard and use the opportunity to reduce over dependence on others and become self-employed.
“Hundreds of farmer beneficiaries are drawn from across the six Local Government Areas of the constituency to enjoy the soft loans of N40 million to purchase farm tools and equipment.
“It is also meant to ensure sufficient food production throughout the year to cushion the effect of the global food shortages occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
NAN reports that the senate leader engaged the services of religious leaders, traditional institutions, political elite and other stakeholders to distribute the materials.
Responding on behalf of the other six council chairmen, the Bagudo Local Government Chairman, Alhaji Mohammadu Kwara, appreciated the senator for the assistances, assuring that the items will be shared justly and accordingly.
“You are a great politician who has the interest of his people at heart. You brought this good news to the Local Government Areas you are representing especially during this difficult time.
“The items actually arrived at the times of need, people are very happy and praying for you and we will continue to pray for you to succeed,” he said.
Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
CreditRegistry, a credit bureau, says it is offering lenders free usage of its premium credit reporting service to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on businesses.
CreditRegistry, the Voice of Credit in Nigeria, is Nigeria’s largest and pioneer credit bureau operator serving members since 2003, disclosed it in a statement it issued in Abuja, on Tuesday.
CreditRegistry’s Free Offer Campaign is highly supportive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) loan facility made available to help Nigerian families and businesses during this crisis.
It said the offer, estimated at more than N25 million, would come into effect with the beginning of the phased easing of the lockdown on May 4, in Lagos, FCT and Ogun as announced by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It added that Lenders not yet subscribed to its platform would use CreditRegistry’s credit reporting service at no cost throughout the month of May.
“This offer enables lenders, especially Fintechs, to process as many loans as desired and reduce operational costs.
“It will also help pass the savings to customers who urgently need help and financial support now as a result of the pandemic impact,” it said.
It further noted that in addition to the Free Offer Campaign to new members, CreditRegistry was championing more efficient and cost-saving models for its existing members to operate.
“Its CreditRegistry’s AutoCred REST API provides the means for lenders to automate access to credit reports and its proprietary SMARTScore to facilitate split-second processing of large volumes of loan transactions at significant cost savings, while ensuring business continuity.
“Lenders can process more credit applications faster and more creditworthy Nigerians can benefit from loans at this critical time,” it added.
The statement further said that CreditRegistry had over 20 products and services available to lenders and the general public, including its SMARTScore and CreditConnection.
It added that since pioneering private credit bureau services in 2003, it had been steadfastly serving leading financial and non-financial organisations.
Commenting on the offer, Mrs Jameelah Sharrieff-Ayedun, CreditRegistry’s Chief Executive Officer, said the bureau remained committed to helping its members.
“Notwithstanding the current arduous circumstances, CreditRegistry remains committed to empowering and supporting our loyal members.
“We all have a part to play. So, during this challenging time we are contributing to help businesses thrive so that more Nigerians can remain employed.
“CreditRegistry is offering new members access to our services at no cost in May.
“We hope that our contribution will support lenders so they can extend critical lending support to more customers,” she said.
She added that as Nigeria was set to reopen, regroup, rethink, reimagine, rebuild and recover, as a socially responsible brand, CreditRegistry would collaborate with lenders to empower individuals and businesses with faster access to affordable credit ‘one loan at a time’.
Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Donald Ugwu (NAN)
No fewer than 3,256 individuals and small businesses have so far benefited from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) to cushion effects of COVID-19.
The Managing Director of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Mr Abubakar Kure, disclosed this at the disbursement of the first phase of the facility in Abuja on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that CBN had in March announced the release of N50 billion TCF stimulus package to support households and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
Kure said the first batch of beneficiaries had received the facility, adding that subsequent disbursements would be done on weekly basis.
He explained that the idea was to provide cash flow or liquidity in order to mitigate effects of COVID-19 pandemic and help the economy to normalise.
Kure added that businesses and individuals were seriously affected by this deadly virus in the country.
The managing director, who congratulated the beneficiaries, urged them to repay so that others could benefit saying that this was meant to serve as a short term relief for them.
He noted that the process was transparent and accessible to all and sundry and ensured only applicants who were qualified were selected.
He said documentation was one of the challenges of the process but the bank was doing everything possible to overcome it.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
Dr Tunde Arosanyin, the National Technical Adviser of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), has appealed to the federal and state governments to exempt farmers from the current lockdown.
Arosanyin, who made appealed in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday, said that this would enable farmers to produce and guarantee food security.
“I want to advise both the federal and state governments to grant movement waiver to farmers and farm produce as from the end of April.’’
Arosanyin said that granting them waiver was necessary to avoid possible food crisis after the lockdown.
He explained the farming pattern in the country in the four quarters of the year as follows: “Q1 January to March is for completion of harvest and storage.
“Quarter 2 – April to June – land preparation and planting, Q3 – July to September- late planting and Q4 – October to December – is for harvesting and processing.
“Between November to March, irrigation system is practised by a few farmers to produce mainly vegetables.”
Arosanyin said in view of the above analysis, it was advisable to allow farmers unrestricted movement to commence farming activities as over 80 per cent of the nation’s food output was rain fed production.
He also advised the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to reactivate the GES and E-wallet programmes to support farmers with farm inputs at subsidised prices
“These efforts will complement the activities of CBN and NIRSAL to improve food production in the country,’’ he said.
He commended government at all levels for the efforts they had put in place to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Arosanyin said that while enlightenment on appropriate health practices on virus continued, it was imperative to extend the palliatives to cushion the effect of the lockdown to more people.
Edited By: Johnson Eyiangho/Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)
The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), says it has received 80,000 applications on the N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr Abubakar Kure disclosed at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that CBN had in March announced the release of N50 billion TCF stimulus package to support households and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
Kure said that out of the number, 40,000 of the applicants that applied for the facility were households.
He said the objective of the facility was to allow firms stay in business and ensure people stayed employed to mitigate the harm on the economy.
According to him, the disbursement of the fund will commence next week.
“The issue of business plan was a requirement for MSMEs applications as stipulated by CBN guideline.
“At the start of the process, business plans which NIRSAL received from loan applicants were highly substandard and to ensure high standard and efficient processing, an optional, automated business plan was provided by a service provider at a highly discounted fee.
“This is to avoid applicants being charged excessively by other consultants and to help people during the stay at home period and to make application process easy.
“We got a third party service provider to enable applicants access the business plan through the internet,” he said.
The managing director said that the management of the bank had later resolved that business plan was no longer a mandatory requirement and the third party provision of a business plan was also not compulsory.
He assured that Nigerians were adhering to the guidelines as laid down by CBN and NIRSAL micro finance bank.
Kure said that the bank would still welcome applications from credible businesses and households affected with COVID-19 with a view to mitigating the effects.
The CBN Director of Corporate Communications Department, Mr Isaac Okorafor described reports from some media that the CBN was charging fee for applications as distractions.
Okorafor said that the negative reports were distractions hence people should disregard such false publications, adding that the loan facility was a relief to help businesses and people “in this trying period’’.
“We have to work together as a people, the country must win this battle of COVID-19, we must win it,” he added.
Edited By: Grace Yussuf (NAN)
A financial expert, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to speed up access to the N50 billion intervention scheme aimed at cushioning the effect of COVID-19 for small businesses.
Uwaleke, a Professor of Finance and Capital Market at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Tuesday.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in a broadcast on Monday extended the lockdown in Lagos State, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The don said the apex bank should review the criteria for accessing the N50 billion intervention scheme to make it less stringent for small businesses.
Uwaleke added that the CBN should speed up access to the facility by appointing more participating institutions instead of using only the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank.
“The CBN should take a second look at the eligibility criteria with a view to making the conditions less stringent to enable easier access by small businesses,” he said.
He noted that even in developed countries with adequate data such as the United States, the enormity and complexity of the interventions had been a major challenge to the authorities.
According to him, thousands of firms, especially SMEs, will suffer great financial losses and may end up laying off their employees.
Uwalake stated that these firms should take advantage of the concessional loans and other palliatives which the CBN had rolled out to mitigate the negative impact of the lockdown on businesses.
He explained that the extension of the lockdown became inevitable following the rising positive cases being recorded across the country.
“The first challenge COVID-19 presents is how to save lives and thereafter, livelihoods/the economy without underestimating the importance of the latter and its correlation to the former,” Uwaleke said.
He said the idea of expanding the scope of the cash transfer scheme from 2.6 million to 3.6 million was commendable.
Uwaleke said the Federal Government should work closely with states and local governments through the Community Development Associations to identify the vulnerable persons yet to be captured in the social register.
The don stated that attention should equally be paid to the urban poor, especially in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, who depended on daily income for survival.
Uwaleke said the extent these interventions would go to ameliorate the hardship occasioned by the lockdown would depend on how well they were implemented.
“It will also be a function of availability of resources against the backdrop of dwindling government revenue.
“In this regard, the complementary effort of corporate bodies as well as public spirited individuals is laudable.
“I believe this is why the government has announced plans to borrow from the multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank not only to fund the 2020 Budget but also to source COVID’19 emergency response funds,” Uwaleke said.
Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Salif Atojoko (NAN)
The Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to set up mechanism to ensure SMEs had easy access to the N50 billion COVID-19 intervention fund.
Mr Auwal Bununu, Zonal Vice President (North Central) of the association made the call in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria .
NAN reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced the N50 billion targeted credit facility as a stimulus package to support households and micro, small and medium enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The apex bank stated that the eligible participating financial institution for the scheme was NIRSAL Microfinance Bank.
It added that the loan amount would be determined based on the activity, cashflow and industry/segment size of beneficiary, subject to a maximum of N25 million for SMEs and a maximum of N3 million for households.
While commending the federal government for the intervention fund, Bununu emphasised that easy access to the fund by SMEs would maintain manufacturing and supply of essential commodities during the pandemic.
“This is essential to ensure that supply of essential commodities are maintained,’’ he said.
According to him, the condition of assessing the money whereby CBN will transfer all the risk to commercial banks to deliver it to the beneficiaries is going to be very difficult for businesses to access.
“Instead, we want government to partner with the organised private sector in such a way that there will be a complete value chain packages for SMEs.
“This includes market access so that there will be skill acquisition for improvement of quality and standard of the services.
“Government should bring in the organised private sector; Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, National Association of Chamber of Commerce and Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises to work with CBN.
“Then they will work on the market access to ensure improved quality and standard and some other infrastructure as well as access to affordable energy.
“This can be done in such a way that it will be less risky instead of transferring it to commercial banks to administer. With that there is going to be minimum risk whereby the loan will be administered and recovered speedily,’’ Bununu said.
He further urged the federal government to increase the COVID-19 intervention fund from N50 billion to 1 billion dollar.
“The central bank has put up this intervention fund and our call is that the federal government should increase the intervention fund for SMEs to 1 billion dollars,’’ Bununu said.
Edited By: Kevin Okunzuwa/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the bank does not charge any fee on COVID-19 loan application as claimed in false reports circulated on social media.
The CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr Isaac Okorafor said this in a statement in Abuja on Monday.
Okorafor explained that procedures for accessing the N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) stimulus package for households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises affected by the pandemic were clearly spelt out.
“The attention of CBN has again been drawn to false reports on the social media circles, that loan seekers and owners of small scale businesses who apply for loans provided to cushion the effects of COVID-19 are required to pay a certain amount as application processing fees.
“Members of the public, particularly, households and owners of small scale businesses are therefore advised to disregard any message requiring them to pay any amount to process their applications.
“Prospective applicants are advised to approach NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank or the CBN branch nearest to them for clarification on the procedure for accessing any of the bank’s related loans.
“Any observed irregularities should be reported to the Consumer Protection department of the CBN via [email protected] or call 07002255226” he stated.
Edited By: Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)