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Financial Inclusion: ‘How First Bank, Others Are Empowering Women’

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Unarguably, women play an important role in the economic growth and development of any nation.
From retail business to entrepreneurship, women make significant contributions to financial transactions, as recently acknowledged in a World Bank study, which noted that women controlled over 20 trillion dollars transactions worldwide.
However, the study titled, “Unrealised Potential: The High Cost of Gender Inequality in Earnings,” revealed that several countries were losing 160 trillion dollars due to differences in lifetime earnings between women and men.
The bank’s Vice President and Treasurer, Ms Arunma Oteh, explained that the figure represented an average of 23,620 dollars lost per person in the 141 countries captured by the study due to inequality in earnings between women and men.
According to Oteh, the study revealed that globally women accounted for only 38 per cent of human capital wealth as against 62 per cent for men.
“In fact, in low- and lower-middle income countries, women account for a third or less of human capital wealth. The losses in wealth from inequality in earnings between men and women vary by region.
“The largest losses, each between 40 trillion dollars and 50 trillion dollars, are observed in East Asia and the Pacific, North America, and Europe and Central Asia,” she said.
Oteh noted that women were important for economic development and were the economic powerhouse for society today, hence the need for concerted efforts for women empowerment.
The shortfall in earnings between women and men, and the need to bridge the gap, is said to be a concern in many countries around the world, particularly as governments are also facing funding challenges.
In Nigeria, some financial institutions have risen to the occasion by proving financial products tailored toward empowering women, as a component of the general financial inclusion drive.
For instance, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, realising that women are the most dynamic and fastest growing economic force in the world, launched an initiative tagged FirstGem to provide financial solutions to women.
The managing director of the bank, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, Chinyere Hoel-while marking the second anniversary of the scheme recently, said over N57.067 billion was given to 81, 687 individuals and businesses owned by women in Nigeria.
He said FirstGem was a product suite that cut across women of all generations irrespective of age, location and social status.
He explained that it was created with an understanding of the uniqueness of women and the need to bridge the identified gaps in their lives, both in corporate Nigeria and in the entrepreneurial space.
To him, the focus of the scheme is to harness and financially mobilise the growing percentage of women in the country by creating an attractive and convenient product that suits their business aspirations, lifestyles and expectations.
Adeduntan said FirstGem had provided opportunities for women to create a savings plan and culture that guarantees them financial freedom and safety for the future; enabling them to save towards specific targets.
“FirstGem was launched to drive financial inclusion and all-round development of women through gender-advancement programmes wrapped around savings culture, financial literacy, loan management and building Investment portfolio.
“FirstGem has created an avenue for women to have access to soft loans to support their aspirations and economic development in their different fields of endeavour.
“It has enhanced women’s lifestyle needs – FirstGem account holders enjoy tremendous discounts from retails stores and life-style improvement outfits in strategic partnership with FirstBank,” he said.
Adeduntan said the bank had continued to use the platform of FirstGem to organise and participate in many women empowerment programmes due to the impact of women’s contribution to economic development.
The managing director said the bank also created FirstGem Online Community, an online platform that provided information on a wide range of issues affecting women from lifestyle, politics, business ideas, skills acquisition, among others.
He said the online community also featured blogs and videos of high-profile women of influence, providing mentorship nuggets and answers to a variety of life, career and business/social issues as guides for women.
In all, he said the bank would continue to put its customers and stakeholders at the heart of its business with the introduction of products and services that would withstand the test of time.
“For over 124 years of our existence, we have focussed on providing excellent financial services to meet the needs of our esteemed customers.
“We continue to improve on our products and also create new ones that suit their specific financial needs.
“The reason why we have been successful is our ability to invent, reinvent and reinvent ourselves.
“You can only be successful like that when you put your customer at the centre piece of all your actions. That is the secret of our success,” said Adeduntan.
Access Bank similarly introduced the ‘W Initiative’ to empower and inspire women in business. The bank said empowering women was truly at the heart of its strategy.
Group Head, Product Sales of Access Bank, Mrs Ope Wemi-Jones, recently said the bank trained 75,000 women in 81 locations in 19 states on finance, education, SMEs, event planning among others.
She said the bank had continued in its commitment to help women overcome the cultural and financial barriers toward harnessing their potential both as women and business owners in Nigeria.
Also, Polaris Bank, formerly Skye Bank, as part of its commitment to empower retail business women in the country, launched Webnar 2.0 for Polaris Pearl subscribers.
Pearl Initiative is a-best-in-class programme which offers women real value-added beyond finance, taking into account the holistic needs and concerns of women in their quest to actualise their potential either as entrepreneurs, professionals or stay-at-home mums.
Such interventions have fueled the hope that, indeed, women, particularly Nigerian women, would in no time make significant contributions to the nation’s growth and restore it to the path of development.
Joel-Nwokeoma writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

 

Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

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NNPC, IOCs Sign Pact To Generate $500bn Revenue …To Produce 10bn Barrels Oil From Five OMLs

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria, on Friday, signed various agreements that would ensure the production of about 10 billion barrels of crude oil and generate over $500bn revenue to all parties involved.
NNPC officials and their counterparts from the IOCs including Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Sinopec, Sapetro, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, among others, renewed their agreements in five Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) that included OMLs 128, 130,132, 133, and 138.
The agreements renewed by the parties were Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) as well as Dispute Resolution Agreements (DRA) among others, at a signing ceremony held at the Abuja headquarters of NNPC.
Speaking at the event, the Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services, Bala Wunti, said, “Cumulatively we hope to produce and monetise over 10 billion barrels of oil with these signatures that we had today.
“And this by no means will give significant revenue for all the parties. We expect over $500bn of revenue for all the stakeholders.”
Earlier, the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC, Mele Kyari, had explained that the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 gave NNPC the legal backing to renegotiate all its existing PSCs in conformance to the provisions of the new Act within a one-year period.
The PIA became law on August 16, 2021 after it was signed into law the same day by the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The PIA in Section 311(2) stipulates that new PSC agreements under new heads of terms will be signed between NNPC Ltd as concessionaire and its contracting parties within one year of signing the PIA into law, giving a deadline of August 15, 2022.
Kyari noted that this provision paved the way for the resolution of lingering disputes which created investment uncertainty and stifled new investments in the nation’s deep offshore assets.
To achieve this, he said NNPC leveraged the near end-term of the PSCs and the parties’ interest to renew the PSCs as a negotiation currency in bringing the contractors to work towards trading the past for the future.
“These renewed PSCs would provide several benefits such as improved long-term relationships with contractors, elimination of contractual ambiguities especially in relation to gas terms, enablement of early contract renewal, among others,” he stated.
Kyari added, “The signing of the new PSCs is a key milestone achievement by NNPC Ltd which would ultimately unlock opportunities within the Nigeria upstream sector.
“The execution of the PSCs will deepen investment and development of Nigeria’s rich petroleum resources and ensure that the trifold mandate of the NNPC Ltd to ensure energy availability, sustainability, and accessibility is achieved.
“Ultimately, the new PSCs will provide an inflow of Foreign Direct Investment, expanded access to affordable energy, job creation and socio-economic development.”

 

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Nigeria’s Crude Production Plunges By Over 2m Barrels 

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The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has said Nigeria’s crude oil production plunged by 2.3 million barrels in July 2022 when compared to what was produced in the preceding month of June.
Data obtained from the latest Monthly Oil Market Report for August 2022, of OPEC, revealed  that crude oil production figures, based on direct communication,  indicated that Nigeria’s output dropped by an average of 74,000 barrels per day in July.
It indicated that for the 31 days in July, the country lost about 2.3 million barrels of crude oil, whereas the average cost of Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil, during the month under review was $105.12/barrel.
Going by the 2.3 million barrels loss in July this year, it means Nigeria’s oil earnings fell by about $241.1m or N101.13bn (at the official exchange rate of N419.37/$) in the month under review.
The data from OPEC also showed that Nigeria’s oil production in June 2022 was 1.158 million barrels per day, but this dropped to 1.084 million barrels per day in July.
The country had produced 1.024 million barrels per day in May this year, according to figures released by the OPEC on Friday.
The Federal Government, operators and experts have consistently fingered crude oil theft in the Niger Delta as the major reason for Nigeria’s poor output and its continued failure to meet the monthly oil production quota approved by OPEC.
The downstream sector has continued to be weighed down by the pricing regimes and the regulatory environments which have continued to dim the growth prospects in the sector.
OPEC has also stated that crude oil prices dipped in July, as against their costs in June, adding that crude in OPEC Reference Basket fell by $9.17 or 7.8 per cent month-on-month in July, to the average of $108.55/barrel.
“Oil futures prices remained highly volatile in July, amid a sharp drop in liquidity. The ICE Brent front month declined $12.38 or 10.5 per cent in July to average $105.12/barrel and NYMEX WTI declined by $14.96 or 13.1 per cent to average $99.38/barrel,” the international oil cartel stated.

By: Corlins Walter

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PH Airport Passengers Kick As Touts Increase

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Business activities at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, seem to be taking a new twist, particularly at the arrival terminal area, as touts and touting activities have increased tremendously at that arrival arena.
Many arrival passengers have not been having it easy with the influx of these new touts, who claim to be hustling at the airport for their daily bread.
Some of the passengers not only argue with them, but brazenly argue or shout at them for forcing themselves on them (passengers).
The Tide had severally observed that the number of these hustlers has increased in recent times and their modus of operation is to approach arrival passenger, whether known or unknown to ask for assistance.
“Anything for the boys? Your boys are here-o”;  or “welcome-ooo, your boys are hungry, we are loyal-ooo”, are usually their opening gambit.
Several times, fracases had broken forth among them on how to share money given to them by some benevolent arrival persons with large heart, which usually constitute public nuisance.
Nevertheless, few of them have engaged themselves in helping passengers to load or offload luggages, and were being appreciated by some passengers, while others shun them, because they did not engage them.
Several questions have been asked by The Tide, on why this situation seems to be persisting, as the airport management appears to be indifferent to the issue, even when some passengers had been complaining.
Even the security operatives, particularly the airport security personnel, appear to be overwhelmed by the situation.
Meanwhile, a senior security officer at airport, who The Tide interacted with on the matter, said the unemployment situation had aggravated the increase in touting at the airport.
He expressed regret that many of the youths are unemployed, and that hustling at the airport, will be better  than taking arms and rubbing people, noting that it was for that reason they are not coming hard on their touting activities.

By: Corlins Walter

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