12 Jul

Daily Watch – FG accedes to Egmont on NFIU, Portuguese firm eyes Nigerian construction

  • President Muhammadu Buhari said on Wednesday the country will soon sign up to a $3 trillion African free trade zone. Buhari’s government had refused to join a continental free-trade zone established in March, on the grounds that it wishes to defend its own businesses and industry. The administration later said it wanted more time to consult business leaders. “In trying to guarantee employment, goods and services in our country, we have to be careful with agreements that will compete, maybe successfully, against our upcoming industries,” Buhari told a news conference during a visit by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. I am a slow reader, maybe because I was an ex-soldier. I didn’t read it fast enough before my officials saw that it was all right for signature. I kept it on my table. I will soon sign it.” The continental free-trade zone, which encompasses 1.2 billion people, was initially joined by 44 countries in March. South Africa signed up earlier this month.
  • The Presidency announced on Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill into law. Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, (Senate) Senator Ita Enang made the disclosure at the State House, Abuja, where he noted that Buhari appended his signature to boost Executive Order 6, also recently signed by the President to check illicit financial dealings in and out of the country. According to Enang, the NFIU which has now become an Act, will among other things, ensure compliance with international standards on matters bordering on money laundering and terrorist financing. It is also expected to check suspicious financial transactions, including receiving, requesting, analysing, and disseminating financial intelligence to relevant agencies. The unit will henceforth be domiciled in the CBN, not the EFCC.
  • Portugal’s biggest construction firm, Mota-Engil says it plans to invest $1.8 billion in the Nigerian construction market, as part of its African expansion plan. Manuel Antonio Mota, CEO of Mota’s Africa unit told Bloomberg that the timing to enter Nigeria was “just right”, citing higher demand for building projects as an increase in oil prices bolsters the state coffers of African oil producers. Under this new venture, Mota-Engil will hold 51 per cent of Mota-Engil Nigeria while the Shoreline Group, will hold the remaining stake. Mota-Engil announced earlier that it planned to enter new markets in Africa including Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia as it seeks $5 billion in contracts on the continent.
  • The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation says the Federal Government has not provided its ₦9 billion counterpart funding for the Abuja Light Rail project, which will be inaugurated for commercial services by President Buhari today. The firm said the project, which began in May 2007, was challenged by inconsistent funding. CCECC MD Jack Li made the disclosure to journalists in Abuja barely 24 hours to the inauguration of the completed first phase of the project. The 45.245km standard gauge rail line, which runs between the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and the downtown Abuja Metro Station, is said to be the first of its kind in West Africa. Li said the project was fully funded with the $500 million loan advanced by the China Export-Import Bank.
  • Glencore said on Wednesday it would cooperate with U.S. authorities after they demanded documents about the mining firm’s business in Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela and Nigeria as part of a corruption investigation. The company said it had set up a committee of board members, including Chairman Tony Hayward and independent non-executive directors Leonhard Fischer and Patrice Merrin, to oversee its response to the subpoena from the Department of Justice (DoJ). Switzerland-based Glencore received a subpoena from the DoJ last week requesting documents and records on compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and money-laundering statutes. The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime for companies to bribe overseas officials to win business. Congo accounts for about 25 per cent of Glencore’s net present value, analysts said, adding that Venezuela and Nigeria’s contribution was negligible. The firm mines cobalt in Congo, a key metal used to make batteries for electric vehicles.