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Don’t Release Paris Club Refund to Outgoing Govs, NLC, Others Tell FG

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The Nigeria Labour Congress and some civil society organisations have advised the Federal Government to delay the disbursement of the N649 billion Paris Club  refund to states until after  the  inauguration of incoming governors on May 29.

The advice  followed the disclosure by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on Thursday that the Federal Government was set to disburse the outstanding N649.434 billion to states. Speaking at a press conference  on the activities of her ministry, Ahmed  said  the  money  was  the last tranche of the refund.

She said, “For the final phase of the Paris Club debt refund, the total sum of N649.434bn was verified by the ministry as the outstanding balance to be refunded  state governments.

“The payments made by the Central Bank of Nigeria as of March 2019 is N691.56bn. The increase in CBN payments partly arose from the exchange rate differential at the point of payment. Although some states still have outstanding balances, they will be refunded in due course.”

But reacting to the development, the President  of the NLC, Mr Ayuba Wabba, told our correspondent on Friday that the union’s recommendation to the  Federal Government would be to delay the disbursement  of the money till after May 29, when  the newly elected governors would have been sworn in. He said the reasons border on accountability and the manner  the  previous refunds were used  by some governors.

Wabba  said, “The incumbent governors have a few days to go, so I am of the strong view that the money should actually be given to the  incoming governors who would start on a clean slate and address substantial issues in governance.

“Clearly, some of the outgoing governors would like to use the money to pay severance allowances, which I think is not a priority,  and you know that some of the states have spent huge amount of money on  their  build-up  for  the 2019 elections.”

The Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project also said the disbursement  of the money should be deferred  until after May 29.

SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in an interview with our correspondent, said, “Since many of them are  in  the twilight of their tenure, the payment should be delayed till after the inauguration of new governors.

“If somebody has only a couple of days (11 days) to the end of his tenure, why give them an opportunity to superintend that volume of money.”

The President of the  Campaign for Democracy, Bako  Usman,  told Saturday PUNCH that paying the money to states where governors did not account for the money received earlier could be counterproductive.

But the Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, said both returning and new governors could not be trusted but that the Federal Government should set up a monitoring team that would track the money from when it is disbursed to when it is used.

He said, “We know the kind of politicians we have and we cannot trust them, both incoming and outgoing. The incoming governors could see it as a welcome package while the outgoing ones may see it as severance benefit.”

The Punch

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Business

FirstBank Rewards Customers in Transact and Win Promo

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Getting rewarded for spending money is a dream that is probably going to remain exciting for many people, but not for the Firstmonie Wallet users. In a two month Transact and Win campaign that started on November 22, 2021, First Bank of Nigeria Limited is rewarding several customers for carrying out transactions on its Firstmonie Wallet application.

The e-wallet is useful for conveniently paying utility bills, purchasing airtime and data, transferring and receiving money, and many other digital transactions. Just for using the mobile-friendly wallet app, Customers got rewarded with mouth-watering prizes both in cash and kind. The number of transactions done on the app determines the price a user could win.

100 customers who had done 1-15 transactions through Firstmonie Wallet within the month won N10,000 cash price; 53 25kg bags of rice and 50 units of standing fans were also won by customers who carried out 16 – 30 transactions with the Firstmonie Wallet; 2 units of power generating sets, 1 unit of Air Conditioning systems and 1 unit LED Televisions went to customers who carried 31 – 50 transactions; while 2 units of iPhone 12 were won by customers who had carried out over 50 transactions on the app within the month.

Victor Nnanna Onyedikachi, a student of the University of Abuja was one of the winners of the iPhone 12, and while receiving his gift, he admitted that he did not expect to win the prize.  “I used the Firstmonie Wallet App, and just like that, I was told that I had qualified. I did not believe it until I saw it myself. I am truly grateful to FirstBank,” he said.

Other winners also expressed their pleasure at being rewarded for using a completely user-friendly app. “There is no issue of service error when using it for any transaction. The service is seamless and the app is easy to use” one of them said.

The Group Executive, e-Business & Retail products, Mr Chuma Ezirim had noted that the promo was targeted at appreciating customers for their patronage; and in line with the Bank’s December-is-a-Vybe campaign. “This promo is hinged on the need to appreciate our customers for their patronage, especially as we have had an increased engagement and usages of the various services offered by our mobile-friendly wallet product,” Ezirim said when the promo was being launched.

Interestingly, the promo also includes new customers and users of the app. By simply downloading the mobile app from the play store, or using the *894# USSD string to sign up, anyone can qualify for the promo. The promo runs till January 22, 2022, so what are you waiting for as you could be the next winner of any of these fantastic prizes.

As the premier Bank in West Africa and the leading financial inclusion services provider in Nigeria for over 127 years, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has remained at the forefront of promoting digital payment in the country, and the Firstmonie Wallet is one of the channels for digital transactions.

Little wonder FirstBank was named “Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria” six times in a row (2011 – 2016) by the globally renowned “The Banker Magazine” and “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” for seven consecutive years (2011 – 2017) by the Asian Banker International.  FirstBank also bagged the Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards and “Best Bank in Nigeria” by Global Finance for 15 years.

Culled from Nairametrics

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Unity Bank Partners RIFAN Mega Rice Pyramid Display, Pledges More Support for Farmers

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Agric-focused lender, Unity Bank Plc has partnered Nigerian rice farmers under the aegis of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN to unveil a mega rice pyramid on the occasion of the National Rice Festival held in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Tuesday.

The event, which coincided with the flag-off of the dry season farming, was used to showcase the gains produced by rice farmers in driving self-sufficiency in rice production through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme, ABP.

Speaking to newsmen at the event, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank, Mrs. Tomi Somefun, while going down memory lane on the support of the rice farmers by the Bank since the inception of the Anchor Borrowers Programme, ABP commended the rice farmers for their unwavering belief and collaboration in the implementation of the intervention programme, adding that as the PFI (Preferred Financial Institution) for the ABP transactions, the Bank will continue to support the farmers and ensure that more smallholder farmers get the requisite financial support to boost rice production.

She said: “Our strategic partnership with RIFAN started in 2018 when we financed about 273,000 smallholder farmers. This was the largest single-ticket transaction in that year. This financing cut across 33 states of the Federation including the FCT.

“In 2019, the Bank increased the tally by financing another 146,810 smallholder farmers for the wet and dry season farming. This funding cut across 35 States of the Federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“Additional funding was granted to finance additional 221,450 smallholder farmers of the Association across the 32 states of the Federation including FCT for the wet season and additional 300,000 hectares was financed in sixteen states for the 2020 dry season cropping season.

“As of March 2021, the Bank has financed no fewer than 190,000 smallholder rice farmers across 35 states including the FCT, Abuja.”

Speaking further, she said: “The rice pyramids we see here today is an example of the resilience of the farmers and should be replicated in all states with a focus on the crop they have a competitive advantage.

“As we gear the programme towards deepening its penetration to reach more farmers, we encourage all beneficiaries of the Intervention Programme to always utilize the inputs judiciously in order to key into Federal Government’s goal of attaining food sufficiency, diversification of the economy from oil, job creation for the teeming youth and poverty reduction”.

“We remain optimistic that RIFAN under the able leadership of the National President, Aminu Goronyo, will continue to engage its members to drive higher performance under the ABP.”

Through the strategic initiative of the ABP, Nigeria has made incredible gains in rice production over the past six years raising production to significant levels.

Official reports show that from an average yield of 1.8 metric tonnes per hectare in the pre-ABP era, the initiative has increased the country’s average yield per hectare for rice paddy and maize to about five metric tonnes per hectare.

Similarly, the average capacity utilisation per annum of domestic integrated rice mills has jumped to 90 per cent, from the 30 per cent that was the case in the era preceding the advent of the ABP.

Statistics show that there has been a significant reduction in the country’s rice import bill, from a monstrous $1.05 billion prior to November 2015, to the current figure of $18.50 million, annually. The programme has also created an estimated 12.3 million direct and indirect jobs across the different value chains and food belts of the country.

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Wema Bank Affirms Adherence to Best-in-Class Governance Processes

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Nigeria’s leading digital bank, Wema Bank Plc, has reassured its stakeholders that it continues to operate with best-in-class governance processes.

The bank also faulted the premise on which a non-governmental organisation, Transparency Nigeria Group, asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to remove its Managing Director/CEO, describing the call as baseless.

The bank reassured its customers and stakeholders that it has and would continue to operate with the highest level of corporate governance, following all rules, policies, and procedures.

“We have no links to any political party and neither are we agents, allies or proxies of any politicians in the country. We are a financial institution solely committed to financial intermediation to enable and fast track the socio-economic development of the country,” the bank said.

The statement further explains that Wema Bank’s observance and strict adherence to due diligence and extant rules and regulations is why it is the oldest surviving indigenous bank in Nigeria.

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