President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Berlin, Germany, said a new bank, Development Bank of Nigeria, would soon begin operations to strengthen the government’s economic diversification programme.
The President, who stated this in a statement, said the bank, when fully operational, would support small and medium enterprises in the country, by improving their access to financing.
According to a statement issued by Malam Garba Shehu, the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, said Buhari was speaking at the German-Nigeria Business Forum in Berlin, Germany.
“Our ambitions of creating a diversified and inclusive economy in Nigeria can only be achieved by having a mix of small, medium and large businesses.
“This is why we worked with the German development agency, KFW, in designing the Development Bank of Nigeria, which will support the small and medium size enterprises, both financially and technically to ensure they take their rightful place in the industrialization value chain.
“I am pleased to announce that Development Bank of Nigeria will be taking off soon and should be a game changer in our economic diversification plans,’’ he said.
President Buhari, who described Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria from Germany as modest, urged prospective investors at the gathering to go beyond the expressions of interest and make binding commitments for trade, investments and industry.
He said such investments should be in the key priority sectors of Agriculture, infrastructure, solid minerals and digital economy.
He said Nigeria, which recorded a trade volume of 2.96 billion dollars with Germany in 2015, still had a great deal of unexploited potential and room to diversify its exports to Germany and increase overall trade volumes.
According to the President, trade relations between both countries primarily take the form of oil and gas exports from Nigeria, machinery, vehicles and vehicle parts, telecommunications technology and chemical products in the other direction.
“Nigeria has remained a country of potential. Now we are in a hurry to develop and realize that potential.
“Nigeria is not yet where we would like it to be, but I am confident that the Government and people of Nigeria are determined to a CHANGE and be where we would like Nigeria to be.
“A major economy, that is subject to good governance on the basis of the rule of law and constitutional order and a responsible member of the international community,’’ he said.
According to him, with the successes recorded in the fight against terrorism and his administration’s resolute commitment to the war against corruption, Nigeria is open for business and broader relationship with Germany.
“We have boldly set out to bring an end to a culture of impunity and abuse of public trust.
“Corruption is the reason why we went through years of an oil boom and came out with very little to show in terms of savings or investments.
“Corruption is the reason our military struggled for so long against Boko Haram.”
According to him, corruption is one of the reasons that in spite of the nation’s rich human and natural resources as a country, 70 per cent of its population continue to live in poverty.
“Now we have said enough is enough. It is time to make public funds work for the public good.
“And that is why we are bringing culprits to book and recovering looted funds and assets,’’ he added.
Lawmakers Vow To Resolve Rivers Port, BUA Terminal Crisis
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Ports and Harbours, Hon. Datti Garaba Muhammad, says the committee will intervene in the lingering court case between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Rivers Port Complex and the BUA terminal operators.
The chairman said the committee’s intervention would save the situation and improve business activities in the complex.
Hon. Muhammad spoke to newsmen in Port Harcourt while on an oversight function to the NPA, Rivers Port Complex, last Tuesday.
Accompanied by other members, Muhammad said:“We are here to hear the challenges, we want them to furnish us with details of the agreement, we want to see the concession agreement between NPA and BUA terminal”.
He said the committee was ready to bring peace between both parties so as to improve on the revenue accrued to the government.
Muhammad disclosed that both parties had approached the Federal High Court and Court of Arbitration in London over the issue.
He said as a committee, it is their responsibility to oversee both the NPA and the terminal operators doing business in the port complex.
Speaking earlier, the Port Manager, Rivers Port Complex, Engr. Yunusa Ibrahim Anji, had told the committee that NPA had decommissioned berth 8, which collapsed some months ago.
Berth 8 is being operated by BUA terminal operators.
The manager appealed to the committee to intervene in the lingering issue as it is affecting its revenue.
He said the collapse of the berth and the legal tussle between NPA and the operator were greatly affecting maritime activities in the port.
The manager said Rivers Port Complex is one of the ports with the highest numbers of private jetties, explaining that the port has over 36 private jetties across the state.
AfCFTA: MAN Urges Stakeholders To Address Vital Issues
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called on stakeholders of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to address vital issues during negotiations to ensure that the overall goal is achieved by the continent.
MAN President, Mr Mansur Ahmed made the call yesterday at the opening ceremony of a two-day African Continental Free Trade Area National Forum, in Lagos.
The event is themed, “Effective Implementation for Industrialisation and Inclusive Economic Development in Nigeria.’
Ahmed said the key issues included technical and political challenges that must be resolved.
According to him, it is important that Nigeria benefits and ensures she meets the targeted seven per cent economic growth rate expected to take about 100 million people out of poverty.
“President Buhari is committed to lifting 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years; how can we ensure that the AfCFTA leads us towards that journey?,” he said.
Ahmed said the critical dimensions that must be addressed during conversations concerning the AfCFTA should include policies and regulations, rules and conduct of the players.
“The way we merge the processes, the agreements, regulations, institutions and how these work together to ensure that the game is being played in accordance with the rules and expectations.
“The issues need to be defined in a way that we see the complexities; technical and political, to ensure clarity.
“All these must be formulated in a way that all stakeholders understand their roles and obligations and therefore play according to the rules,’’the MAN president said.
Ahmed said that all negotiators were not of the same capacity and inclination, which would require harmonisation on a regional level to resolve issues such as market offer and collaboration.
He urged stakeholders to view the negotiations with a sense of collaboration and not allow any player deemed as too powerful to dominate.
“We must look at the interest of the group as a whole and the interest of the region, and what provides the best long term and sustainable interest of the region.
“There must be a strong commitment by our governments, various institutions and private sector groups to look beyond the norms and look at the goal for the region and continent,’’he said.
Oil Firm Commissions Projects In Host Communities
An indigenous oil company operating Oil Mining Lease (OML) 18 in Rivers State, Eroton Exploration and Production Company Limited, has put smiles on the faces of its host communities with projects estimated at hundreds of millions of Naira.
Projects commissioned recently in Minama, Ifoko, Sangama, Ido and Abonnema towns, include ultra-modern town halls, civic centres and an integrated agro-farm industry that have mopped up hundreds of youths from the unemployment market in the area.
Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Mr. Felix Odungweru, who was the Special Guest of Honour commended the communities for the peaceful disposition and cooperation during the execution of the projects and assured that the Government of Chief Nyesom Wike would ensure that multi-national companies operating in the state develop their host communities.
Speaking to newsmen at Sangama in Asari Toru Local Government Area – shortly after commissioning the ultra-modern civic centre, the Cluster Development Board Chairman, Deacon Chrstian Sekibo, thanked the communities for nominating upright members of their communities to the membership of the board who had worked relentlessly to ensure the success of the various projects commissioned.
He promised to provide toilets for Minama Community in Asari-Toru LGA, in response to the people’s demand for toilets in the community.
Deacon Sekibo debunked the insinuation that youth restiveness prevents multi-national companies from developing their host communities, pointing out that the board received the best of cooperation from the communities youth.
“We received the best cooperation from youth of these communities. Their cooperation is an indication these youth in our communities were hungry for development. We could see it in their eyes, actions and attitudes,” he said.
Also speaking to newsmen at Ifoko Town in Asari-Toru LGA, after the commissioning of an ultra-modern town hall, consultant to the board, Dr Godwin MInimah of Godifems Consults Limited, said the interest of the host communities was paramount to Eroton E & P.
The second day of the programme witnessed the commissioning of the integrated agro-farm in Ido Community in Asari-Toru LGA with offices and staff quarters for essential staff.
In his welcome address, Deacon Sekibo said, “upon payment of the 2015/2016 project funds by the joint ventures partners- NNPC/Eroton E&P, the DAA3 board agreed to invest it in an income yielding project and accordingly settled for an agro business. Hence, the integrated agro farm project.
“The farm has poultry with an installed capacity for 15,000 birds; fishery with capacity for 20,000 catfish fingerlings; snailery with capacity for 8,000 snails and piggery with capacity for 144 piglets and pigs.”
Commissioning of the Ido Integrated Agro Farm and the Abonnema civic centre were withnessed by the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Mr Felix Odungweru, representatives of Eroton company, community chiefs and elders, among others.
By: Donatus Ebi
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