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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.”

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Unity Bank Collaborate to Fund N15.5bn Equipment for Julius Berger

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Unity Bank Plc, in company of other banks has facilitated a credit facility of N15.5bn for the acquisition of trucks and equipment to Julius Berger Plc.

The group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of SCOA Nigeria Plc, Dr Massad Boulos, has appreciated the gesture.

A statement from SCOA said that SCOA presented 33 MAN platform trucks and equipment to Julius Berger to be deployed for the construction of the 380 kilometre Abuja-Kaduna-Kano roads.

The banks that funded the acquisition were Unity Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Limited, Zenith Bank Plc, Providus Bank Limited, Wema Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Union Bank Plc and Coronation Merchant Bank Limited.

Boulos said, “I commend Unity Bank, their MD and the members of the executive management; and the entire team of banks who have worked closely with us on this project.”

Mr Ralph Brendicke, the representative of the MD of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Dr Lars Richter, said the trucks and other equipment would help the company expand its field capacity and increase the speed of execution leading to timely completion of the highly anticipated project.

The MD/CEO of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs Tomi Somefun, represented by the Directorate Head, Lagos and South West Zone, Mr Wale Ogunride, was quoted as saying, “We looked at the strategic importance of this project and how such infrastructure could contribute to stimulating economic activity and decided that Unity Bank must play its part.

“Unity Bank will continue to provide support to such projects as we have been doing in other critical sectors of the economy such as agriculture.”

In a separate statement, the Executive Director of Wema Bank, Mr Oluwole Ajimisinmi, was quoted as saying that his bank was delighted to be one of the institutions to support SCOA in the project.

He also encouraged and solicited for more local content in order to create more jobs.

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NBS Report: Nigeria’s Inflation Rate Dropped Further to 17.01% in August

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Nigeria’s inflation rate has dropped by 0.37 per cent to 17.01 per cent (year-on-year) in August, from the 17.38 per cent recorded in July.

This was disclosed in the Consumer Price Index report just released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

According to the report, composite food index also dropped to 20.30 per cent against 21.03 per cent in July.

“This rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, milk, cheese and egg, oils and fats, Potatoes, yam and other tuber, food products n.e.c, meat and coffee, tea and cocoa,” the report read in part.

At the same time, the country’s urban inflation rate fell to 17.59 per cent year-on-year, from 18.01 per cent recorded two months ago, rural inflation rate tapered to 16.43 per cent from a previous 16.75 per cent, while core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce dropped by 0.31 per cent to 13.41 per cent in from 13.72 per cent recorded in July.

“The corresponding twelve-month year-on-year average percentage change for the urban index is 17.19 per cent in August 2021. This is higher than 16.89 per cent reported in July 2021, while the corresponding rural inflation rate in August 2021 is 16.03 per cent compared to 15.73 per cent recorded in July 2021,” the report further stated.

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Dangote Partners NCDMB on Oil Sector Research, Development

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Dangote Refinery has announced a partnership with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board on the promotion of research and development in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.

According to a statement from the firm, Dangote refinery was a platinum sponsor of the second edition of the NCDMB Research and Development Fair and Conference 2021 in a bid to show its commitment to the project.

The statement also said that Dangote refinery was able to showcase its 650,000 barrel per day project and the research and development activities it had carried out during the construction of the refinery at the fair.

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote, commended the company’s support for the fair. He expressed the need for companies in the Nigeria oil and gas sector to start nurturing the growth of the country’s home-grown technology rather just being wholesome consumers of other people’s innovations.

Wabote was quoted as saying, “Analysis of global practices of Research and Development revealed that the combined R&D spend of just five countries makes up 63.5 per cent of the entire global R&D spend. These five countries, namely USA, China, Japan, Germany, and India were also observed to have accounted for over 50 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product.

“Africa, on the other hand, accounted for less than one per cent of the global R&D spend while its GDP is only three per cent of the global GDP. You will agree with me that there is a nexus between the spend on Research and Development and economic prosperity,” the Executive Secretary added.

The minister, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, also called on industry stakeholders and youths across the country to take advantage of the NCDMB R&D centre to bolster adaptation of existing solutions and also come up with new ones to address major challenges in the industry.

The Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, represented by his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo was quoted as saying that the theme for the fair captures stakeholders’ collective commitment to aggressively drive innovation and position the oil industry on the path of an integrated energy sector, where field development and production solutions are sourced through local capabilities.

He emphasised the need for private sector operators to invest in research and development. “It is important, however, to clear up a certain misconception: The funding of research is not the sole responsibility of National Governments; rather, big spenders on research and development globally come from the private sector,” he added.

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