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Nigeria Freezes Accounts Of Sacked Bank Chiefs As Depositors Make Panic Withdrawals

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The Nigerian anti-graft agency said Saturday it had frozen the accounts of the sacked directors of five ailing banks for running the institutions into insolvency.

“We have frozen the accounts of the former managing directors and executive directors of the five banks,” Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) spokesman Femi Babafemi told our correspondent

He said the agency had also invited the auditors of the affected banks for questioning.

“The auditors have to tell us what they know about the financials of the banks. How they came about huge debts and non-performing loans without the auditors raising the alarm,” he said.

The heads of Afribank plc, Intercontinental Bank plc, Union Bank plc, Oceanic Bank plc and Finbank plc were removed on August 14 by the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for piling up billions of dollars in bad debts and inefficiency.

The CBN accused the banks’ management of granting loans to prominent Nigerian businessmen and companies without following best practice.

The total loan portfolio of these five banks came to N2,801.92 billion, according to CBN.

Margin loans amounted to N456.28 billion and exposure to oil and gas loans amounted to N487.02 billion while aggregate non-performing loans stood at N1,143 billion, it said.

The EFCC has given the debtors one week to pay up or face arrest and prosecution.

Meanwhile, panic withdrawals by depositors and a thick cloud of uncertainty are shaking Nigeria’s financial sector after the sacking of the directors of five key ailing banks, operators and analysts said.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi earlier this month removed the heads of Afribank, Intercontinental Bank, Union Bank, Oceanic Bank and Finbank for piling up billions of dollars in bad debts.

The books of about a dozen other banks are also currently under CBN scrutiny to determine their viability, debts and liquidity status.

“There are apprehensions in the industry on what will be the fate of the remaining banks because of CBN’s action,” a treasury manager in one of the nation’s banks, Sunday Adeola, told our correspondent.

The dismissals of the bank chiefs and the anti-graft agency’s threat to arrest, prosecute or seize property of the debtors of the banks if they failed to pay in a week has put the heat on the sector, analysts said.

“The… system has witnessed massive cash outflows in recent days. Depositors are jittery and they are withdrawing their money,” said analyst Joel Allison.

“Bank vaults are becoming empty and if the trend continues we may have another bank failure on our hands,” he said, recalling the liquidation of dozens of distressed banks in the 1990s after bad management and fraud.

Dozens of the owners and managers of those failed banks were prosecuted or jailed while others fled the country to evade arrest.

The CBN chief earlier this month accused the management of the five ailing banks of giving loans to prominent Nigerian businessmen and companies without adhering to good corporate governance and risk management practices.

He put the total loan portfolio of the ailing banks at N2.8 trillion.

The CBN has also published a list of dozens of prominent Nigerians businessmen as debtors to these banks.

The list includes tycoon Aliko Dangote, rated by US Forbes magazine as one of the world’s richest Africans with a net worth of around $3.3 billion.

Dangote, 52, who is also the new president of the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) has denied managing the oil and gas company listed as owing Intercontinental Bank more than eight billion naira.

The Nigerian government has in the past days tried to calm the nerves of agitated bank depositors by assuring them that their money is safe and that it will not allow the debt-ridden banks to sink.

The government has already announced a N400 billion naira  bailout for the affected banks.

Nigeria’s central labour movement NLC lauded Sanusi’s action, and urged the CBN to restore public confidence in the industry.

Rasheed Yusuf of the Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria also called for proper management of the situation “in a way that the market will not be jeopardised.”

The confusion in this important sector of the Nigerian economy is further exacerbated by the fact that three key players — Dangote, NSE director general, Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke and International Bank’s ex-boss, Erastus Akingbola  were listed by the CBN as bank debtors.

Okereke-Onyiuke is also a director in Transnational Corp, a failing conglomerate, which the CBN says owes Union Bank about N31 billion.

Five years ago, in a bid to shore up the capital base of these financial institutions, the number of banks was cut from more than 90 to 25 solid ones.

The figure later dropped to 24 when two of the banks merged.

But that early caution appears to have dissolved in more recent times and the global economic crisis has made the credit crunch that much tougher.

Mindful of the 1990s banking crisis, weary Nigerians are being cautious.

“Yesterday I took all my money from my bank to avoid possible unpleasant consequences,” said Femi Afolabi, a Lagos hotelier, who lost almost three million naira in 1995 when his bank failed.

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FG Hails Rivers Top Spot In Literacy Education Dev

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The Federal Government has commended the Rivers State Government over its concerted efforts in the development of basic education that has guaranteed the state the highest ranking in literacy education in the country.
The state scored 70per cent ahead other states of the federation in a recent national ranking.
The Coordinator in charge of Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), Federal Ministry of Education, MrsAminaHaruna made the commendation, while speaking at a one-day state Technical Workshop on improving BESDA implementation at Bougainvillea Hotels in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Haruna said it was of good note that Rivers State has shifted to where it was before and attained a commendable height in the development of literacy education, adding that such feat was worth celebrating.
The BESDA coordinator, disclosed that Rivers State has also taken the lead to replicate the just concluded performance review meeting held in Abuja, recently, adding that the technical meeting was essentially designed to bring all stakeholders in the BESDA together to brainstorm on way forward.
She said that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring that the menace of out-of-school children in the country was resolved, adding that it was what informed the Federal Government decision to borrow $11million to tackle the menace headlong.
She called on parents to ensure that they give their children the right to education, adding that the importance of education in the society cannot be over-emphasised.
“Rivers State has done well in literacy education, and they are ahead of other states. So, whoever that has done well; praise him or her”, she stated.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku said one of the cardinal policy trusts of the present administration led by Governor Nyesom Wike was to provide access to quality and qualitative education for children in the state, saying that BESDA programme was one of the links to actualise it.
Ebeku thanked the Federal Government and the World Bank for initiating the BESDA programme, adding that it has given hope to many out-of-school children to have access to education literacy, saying that the cult clashes that ravaged some communities was responsible for the over-crowded nature of schools in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas of the state.
He expressed satisfaction with the performance of both teachers and pupils in the BESDA schools in the state, adding that children in the conventional schools were not doing better than the ones in the BESDA schools.
He, therefore, solicited for cooperation among all stakeholders in driving the programme, and assured that the state Ministry of Education would drive the supervision and monitoring to ensure it achieves set objectives.
In his speech, the Executive Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Ven. Fyneface Akah said the workshop was organised to replicate the Federal Government’s model on peer review performance by getting all stakeholders involved in achieving gaining more grounds in the BESDA programme in the state.
Akah said the board under his leadership was determined to ensure both children of fishermen and those who are out-of-school have access to quality education, which he said, was essential.
“It is not about the reward but the effort and impact. We are organising literacy content to ensure that those children in the programme read, write and understand numerical skills, and whoever that acquires literary skills has acquired the knowledge for further education”, he stated.
In her remarks, the RSUBEB Director in charge of Physical Planning, Mrs Joy Ojirika, who doubles as the state BESDA focal person, gave a scorecard on the progress of the programme in the state.

By: Akujobi Amadi

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Wike, Okonjo-Iweala, Others For 4th DAAR Awards, Dec 6

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; and Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; are among those to be honoured at the fourth edition of the DAAR Awards.
The DAAR Awards, scheduled to take place on December 6, 2021 in Lagos, is organised by DAAR Communication Plc, which owns RayPower broadcasting station and African Independent Television.
At the ceremony, Wike would be honoured with the DAAR’s Man of the Year Award, while Okonjo-Iweala would be honoured with DAAR’s Woman of the Year Award, just as Okowa would receive award for outstanding leadership in public service.
In a letter to the recipients by the Group Managing Director of DAAR Communications Plc, Tony Akiotu, said the awardees were selected for their exemplary qualities and immeasurable contributions to the sustainable development and progress of humanity in various sectors.
On the criteria for selecting Rivers State governor,Akiotu said, “The Editorial Board and DAAR Communications panel of assessors for the 4th DAAR Awards had unanimously voted to confer the award of Man of the Year 2021 on Wike for his giant strides in infrastructural development of Rivers State and deepening of Nigeria’s democracy”.
Akiotu said that Deputy Senate President, OvieOmo-Agege would also receive award for Outstanding Leadership in Public Service along with Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum; Oyo State Governor, Engr. OluseyiMakinde; and Osun State Governor, Prof. Adegboyega Oyetola.
Also to be honoured are the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who would receive award for Outstanding Performance in the Academia, and Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who would receive Outstanding Performance on COVID-19 Pandemicaward.
According to DAAR CommunicationsPlc, it would honour Ogundipe for extensive work on molecular systematics, plant anatomy, food security, natural resource management and biodiversity conservation.

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Senate Blasts Saipem Over Breach Of Local Content Act On NLNG Train-7

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The Senate Committee on Local Content has expressed displeasure at Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, a company handling the Train-7 gas project, for what it termed “deliberate breach” of Nigeria’s Local Content Act.
The company’s management has been evading appearances before the committee until last Wednesday after the panel threatened to compel their appearance with sanction.
However, the panel, chaired by Senator Teslim Folarin, after inference from evidence made available to the panel, demanded an explanation from Saipem Contracting Company why the gas project company awards contracts to foreign companies for supply of steel, rods, among other materials for execution of the project contrary to local firms in clear breach of LCA.
According to the committee, they have been flooded with petitions from the public over the sharp practices of the company in connivance with some Nigerians.
The committee said it was based on that the Train -7 gas project was invited while pointing out the breach of the local content act on the award of contract for the purchase of items for the gas project.
The committee, however, regretted the non-appearance of Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Saipem and Daewoo, which they said their appearances would have deepened investigation on why foreign firms habitually shortchange the nation.
It rescheduled the meeting and asked the committee clerk to issue fresh letter of invitation to the absentee organisations.
Senators Folarin and Sabi Abdullahi in reference to a petition pointed out that Saipem management is aware of contracts to foreign firms than Nigerian companies for supply of materials running into millions of euros in breach of the provision of the local content act.
Teslim said: “Can you explain, how you came about awarding the contract for the supply of steel for €4million, to TK Corporation, a Korean company, and €4.27million, contract to another Korean company for pipes, €3.86million to an Italian company and another €5.5million.
“All these are not Nigerian companies.”
He said the local content act provided for 50percent Nigerian content in the execution of the project.
In his response, the Managing Director of Saipem, Mr Walter Peviani said execution of the project by the company was based on a contractual agreement, and documents presented to the company by the NLNG and the NCDMB.
“Within the contractual documents, which we received, entailed, a project Nigerian content plan and entry procedures for Nigerian companies compliance certificate,” he said.
Unfortunately, the Executive Secretary of the National Content Development Management Board was absent despite invitations, a development, the committee said was deliberate and suspicious.

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