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Get Ready for Total Blackout, Labour Tells Nigerians

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The Trade Union Congress has asked Nigerians to look for alternative power source beginning from Monday (today), as it declared that it would shut down the nationwide operations of the Transmission Company of Nigeria today.

But the TCN described the move by TUC as ill-motivated, stressing that it was wrong for the labour union to claim that there was industrial disharmony in the transmission company.

It was also learnt that the plan by the TUC to ground operations at the transmission firm had caused disagreement between the two major unions in the power sector.

In a message to workers at the Abuja headquarters of TCN, which was sighted by our correspondent on Sunday, the trade union claimed that for some time now, workers of the transmission company had been subjected to inhuman treatment by the management of the firm.

The TUC stated that despite the interventions of labour, the TCN management had continued to disregard the Nigerian workers at the firm.

The union said it was on this note that the TUC directed its members to solidarise with the workers and ensure a total shutdown of electricity transmission facilities across the federation through the picketing of TCN offices nationwide on Monday, May 13, 2019.

The union urged Nigerians to bear with it and look for an alternative source of power pending when the issues are resolved.

But the transmission company said the plan by TUC to picket the transmission company was ill-motivated.

The General Manager, Public Affairs, TCN, Ndidi Mbah, told our correspondent on Sunday that there was no iota of truth in the statement credited to the labour union that there was industrial disharmony in the company.

The transmission company stated that “TUC was ill-informed by Chris Okonkwo, current President of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, having lost the support of TCN staff members in his bid to use the association to advance his selfish interest.”

It added, “TCN management believes that TUC, unknown to the union, is being used by unpatriotic elements. TUC, as a law-abiding organisation, is expected to find out why Okonkwo could not secure the support of TCN staff members, NUEE (National Union of Electricity Employees) or SSAEAC, TCN Branch before accepting to lead the picketing of TCN.”

Mbah stated that the union should know that TCN had successfully expanded the capacity of the grid from 5,000MW in February 2017 to 8,100MW in December 2018.

“It is on record that TCN receives less than 30 per cent of its revenue from the power distributors and yet it has been able to attain this unprecedented stride in grid expansion largely due to the support of the members of staff,” she stated.

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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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FirstBank Holds Nigeria Economic Outlook Webinar for 2022

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider has announced its “Nigerian Economic Outlook Webinar” convened to reflect national and global economic trends that shaped 2021, whilst forecasting the economic outlook of 2022. 

The virtual event themed “A rearview look at 2021, lessons learnt-Outlook 2022” is scheduled by 1 pm on Thursday, 13th January 2022 via Zoom meeting. Click on the link  https://firstbanknigeria.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_zrF8VViyTp6wnzED_3IpWw    to register and participate in the event. Registration is Free!!!

The webinar aims to set the tone for the year by providing an opportunity for participants to learn directly from economic experts to stay informed and knowledgeably empowered to make the right decisions in their socio-economic activities in 2022 which will be impacted by the micro and macro-economic activities of the country.

With Nigeria’s economy projected to grow by 2.7% in 2022 as predicted by The International Monetary Fund (IMF) based on an expected recovery in crude oil prices and production, Nigeria will see economic activities normalizing. Key economic activities to watch out for in 2022 include the Global Market trends, removal of subsidies, and floatation of the Naira. However, recoveries in the oil sector and maximization of the e-Naira could help keep the parallel market in check. 

Bismarck Rewane, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company Limited and the event’s keynote speaker will lead deliberations at the event. Other speakers are Ini Ebong, Executive Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited Treasury and International Banking; Opeyemi Agbaje, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RTC Advisory Services Limited, Olaitan Martins, Group Executive, Transaction Banking and Augustine Uddin, the Chief Economist, FirstBank.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 over two years ago, the global economy has witnessed viral economic shocks that adversely affected socio-economic activities. These have left many individuals and businesses struggling to stay afloat amid the economic downturn. As a leading financial inclusion services provider in the country, FirstBank has remained committed to providing products, services and initiatives that have been crucial in mitigating the adverse effects of Covid-19 on individuals and households.  

Speaking on the event, the Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications of FirstBank, Ms. Folake Ani-Mumuney said ‘being woven into fabric of the society for over 127 years means that we provide value, support and innovation-driven solutions for our stakeholders regardless of the challenges of the pandemic. Our commitment to nation-building is anchored partly on our thought leadership role designed to relentlessly drive growth and scale for all through engagements that showcase versatile subject matter experts endowed with expertise, knowledge and valuable insights. The webinar provides a platform for cross fertilization of ideas and opportunities to learn and grow.  Nigeria is a country rich in human and natural resources and these have helped in the reforms and resilience reflected in the economy in 2021’.  

The COVID 19 pandemic brought disruption and challenges and largely Nigeria adopted measures to contain it. The pandemic also provided opportunities for rebuilding and facilitating economic transformation to close the gap with the rest of the world. These include innovations in information technologies (IT) which have been critical to ensuring business continuity and productivity among firms that have re-designed their work processes as well as telecommunications and payment systems in the e-commerce sub-sector. 

Whilst many of the current government policies are aimed at absorbing the shocks induced by the pandemic, it is important to note that an economy that seeks to recover and build resilience should be one that focuses on innovation and creativity in driving its goal.

The event is for everyone as discussants will have the economic outlook for 2022 dissected so participants are knowledgeably equipped to make the right decisions thereby better planning their business and financial activities.

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