05 Apr

Daily Watch – House probes Amnesty shortfall, Jumia murder forces PayPorte action

  • The House of Representatives on Tuesday launched a probe into a lack of funding for an amnesty programme for militants in the Niger Delta, a key factor in maintaining a tenuous peace in the oil-rich region and supporting crude production. Failure to maintain funding for former militants under the 2009 amnesty could jeopardise the relative stability in the Delta and result in oil production being choked off, as it was last year by militant attacks that cut crude output by as much as a third. The House will “investigate the circumstances leading to funding constraints affecting the amnesty programme, with a view to avoiding recurrence and report back to the House within two weeks for further legislative action,” it said in a motion. It also said it would urge the finance minister to release the ₦15 billion ($49 million) set aside in the 2016 budget for the amnesty programme. Under the amnesty programme, each former militant is entitled to ₦65,000 ($213) a month plus job training. But last month, a special adviser to Nigeria’s president said the programme was facing a cash crunch.
  • China has offered Nigeria a $4.5 billion loan for agricultural machinery and infrastructure, a Nigerian state governor said on Tuesday. Zamfara state governor Abdulaziz Yari said the loan had a 20-year repayment period at an interest rate of 1 percent. “China is giving us a credit line of $4.5 billion for the procurement of strategic machinery for rural development and agriculture,” Yari, who chairs the forum of Nigeria’s state governors, told reporters after a meeting with the president and agriculture minister. Agriculture minister Audu Ogbeh said he and the governor briefed the president on “developments following our visit to China in April last year” and the progress of negotiations on issues related to agricultural machinery. Yari said the loan offer would be presented to cabinet colleagues on Wednesday and considered by lawmakers for final approval.
  • The CBN said on Tuesday it will offer dollar forwards to be delivered within two months to offset a backlog of matured foreign exchange obligations to manufacturers, airlines, fuel importers and agriculture businesses. “Authorised dealers’ accounts with the central bank will be debited in full for the naira equivalent of the dollar bid amount on a spot basis,” the bank said in a notice to commercial lenders. The central bank will settle the bids through forward settlements of two months,” added the bank, which did not specify the amount of dollars to be sold. The bank had on Monday offered $150 million wholesale forwards to banks and said it also released $90 million for invisible transactions to ensure liquidity in the forex market. The bank has been selling dollars on the official market in an attempt to narrow the spread with the black market exchange rate of the naira. The naira currency was quoted at ₦390 to the dollar on the black market on Tuesday, against ₦395 a dollar on Monday. The naira closed at ₦306.25 to the dollar on Tuesday, compared with ₦306.30 the previous day.
  • Following the completion of the acquisition of ExxonMobil’s 60 percent equity stake in Mobil Oil Nigeria, Nipco says it will change the name of MON to 11Plc while retaining the Mobil brand. Nipco, an indigenous Nigerian downstream oil and gas company was selected in October 2016 by the United States-based oil major as the preferred bidder for the acquisition of its majority stake. The Group Managing Director, Nipco, Venkataraman Venkatapathy, said they had received statutory approvals from the SEC and NSE. He said with the completion of the acquisition, Nipco would review the two existing business models with the aim of synchronising and harmonising their operations. In his words, “Nipco intends ultimately, that each of the entities will remain and function independently. Running the two entities separately will engender financial and strategic merits. The focus will now be placed on the expansion of the retail footprint under the Mobil brand.”
  • PayPorte MD, Bassey Eyo said the online store, Payporte.com has suspended its ‘Payment On Delivery’ payment option. Eyo said in a statement that the decision was in line with the new CBN cashless policy. A delivery staff of rival online store Jumia was brutally murdered in Port Harcourt while delivering goods to some customers via its Payment On Delivery service. According to Eyo, only online secured payments and bank transfers will be accepted as a means of payment from April 3. PayPorte’s Head of Operations, Boma Igah said in line with the suspension, refunds for unsatisfied customers would now be processed within 48 hours. Igah added that only customers who had shopped on PayPorte at least five times would be able to have access the POD option from April 10, pending its total discontinuation. PayPorte commenced operations in 2014 with products ranging from fashion and fashion accessories, shoes, electronics, smartphones, perfumes and home appliances.
  • The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund has put its total fund disbursements to 1,400 beneficiaries at about ₦1.7 billion. The Executive Secretary, LSETF, Akin Oyebode said the target of the organisation was to disburse at least ₦25 billion to 100,000 businesses by 2019. This, according to him, is expected to translate to one million jobs created during the same period. “We have also launched our online application portal, which is now fully automated making it easy and convenient for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) based in Lagos State to send in their applications online and take advantage of the LSETF’s loan programmes. With the new portal, we will do away with paper-based applications, as applicants will start and end the loan process online,” he explained.