AfDB approves Central Africa’s plan

The Board of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved the Central Africa Regional Integration Strategy Paper 2019 – 2025.

The Central Africa Regional Integration Strategy Paper (RISP) for 2019 – 2025 builds on the lessons learned from the implementation of previous regional development initiatives.

It also lists the Bank’s plans to accelerate intra-regional trade, inclusive economic growth and structural transformation of the Central African region.

It will guide the Bank’s regional operations in seven member countries of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), namely Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Central African Republic – a combined population of some 130 million people.

The cooperation, integration and economic development goals of the 2019 – 2025 Central Africa regional strategy will be achieved from the basis of two pillars.

The pillars include plans to strengthen regional infrastructure (focusing on electricity networks, transport and ICT), while the second supports reforms for intra-regional trade development and cross-border investments and builds the institutional capacity of regional organizations, especially ECCAS and the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC).

Geographically, the Central African zone represents the nexus of Africa, sharing borders with every other region of the continent. Civil harmony and the economic, social and political progress of the region are underpinned by the broader promise of continental cooperation and economic integration.

In 2018, the GDP growth rate in Central Africa doubled to 2.2 % from 1.1% in 2017, but remained below the sub-Saharan average of 3.5%. The region’s growth was driven primarily by global commodity prices, principally oil.

Other countries within the ECCAS region continued to grapple with the vicious circle of instability and fragility, weak human and institutional capacity, and infrastructure deficits in the transport, energy and ICT sectors.

“Central Africa has significant oil resources, deposits of precious metals and minerals, huge transboundary water resources, and the continent’s greatest hydropower potential.

“`Implementation of the Central Africa integration strategy will encourage regional and national authorities to ensure that cross-border programs and initiatives are embedded into public resource planning and administration,” said Ousmane Dore, Director-General of the Bank’s Central Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office.

Implementation of the Central Africa RISP will require investments amounting to US$ 4.421 billion, corresponding to 30 regional operations over the seven-year period.

About 88% of the planned funding would be devoted to strengthening regional infrastructure.

The infrastructure and institutional capacity-building components of the plan will also support the resilience of the countries in the region. Specific operations will also strengthen resilience to food insecurity, enable the socio-economic reintegration of vulnerable groups, and conserve ecosystems in the Congo Basin.

“The African Development Bank’s ongoing support for Central Africa is crucial for the successful economic integration of the countries in the region.

“The new Regional Integration Strategy Paper continues this tradition of supportive interventions in critical economic sectors. Ultimately, it will be a huge boost to intra-regional trade and a much needed structural transformation of the policy and business environment,” said Moono Mupotola, the Bank’s Director of Regional Development and Regional Integration.

The RISP is in conformity with the Bank’s new Regional Integration Strategy Framework (RISF) which was approved in March 2018, and the Ten-Year Strategy of the African Development Bank Group (2013-2022).

It also aligns with the regional priorities from ECCAS and CEMAC and the Bank’s High 5 priorities.

Nigeria has $48bn investment opportunities in oil, gas sector — Baru

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru says that over 48 billion dollars investment opportunities are in the Nigerian oil and gas sector.

Baru disclosed this in a statement issued in by the NNPC Spokesman, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, in Abuja, on Thursday.

The GMD called on investors to utilise the over 48 billion dollars investment opportunities available in the upcoming capital projects within Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry.

Ughamadu said Baru disclosed this at a Panel Session on the topic “Insights on Future Exploration Hotspots: Opportunities for Africa’s Oil & Gas Industry” under the sub-theme “The New Frontier for Africa’s Oil & Gas” at the 2019 International Petroleum (IP) Week conference in London.

The IP Week is a global oil and gas platform where executives and other energy professionals discuss the big issues affecting the sector.

It is organised annually by the London-based Energy Institute.

Baru said that the NNPC’s Frontier Exploration Service was currently drilling the Kolmani River-2 Well where desktop estimates revealed that about 400 bcf of gas was expected to be encountered.

He stressed that several new frontiers for exploration opportunities abound in Nigeria, even as offshore discoveries in the country had mostly been limited to between 1,000 – 1,500m of water depth.

“Beyond these water depths, the new frontiers of ultra-deep waters need to be tested. And that is where we need the investors,” he told the audience.

He noted that unless issues related to Legal and Regulatory uncertainties, lack of infrastructure, skilled manpower shortage, transparency and accountability were addressed among key stakeholders, the continent’s oil and gas industry might not achieve its full potential.

On the potentials of the industry in Africa, he said the continent’s energy outlook was looking positive amid difficult operating and economic headwinds.

He added that over 41 billion barrels of oil and 319 trillion cubic feet of gas were yet to be discovered in sub-Saharan Africa alone, while between 2008 and 2017, exploratory success in the sub-region was at least 45 per cent.

According to him, there has been a surge in the capital expenditure (CAPEX) across Africa’s oil and gas sector, with close to 194 billion dollars earmarked to be spent between 2018 and 2025 on 93 upcoming oil and gas fields in Africa.

“Out of this 194 billion dollars , Nigeria accounts for 48.04 billion dollars (over 24.8%) of the total CAPEX coming into upcoming projects in Africa over 2018 to 2025, with over 20 planned projects,” Baru said.

The GMD observed that 23.8 per cent of the CAPEX in Africa would be spent in Mozambique, 11.3 per cent in Angola while about 29.2 per cent would be spent in Tanzania, Senegal, Mauritania, Uganda, Egypt, Algeria and Kenya combined.

Baru noted that with over 14 oil producing countries, Africa currently accounts for 7.5 per cent (barrels of crude oil) and 7.1 per cent (488 Tcf of gas) of global proven oil and gas reserves.

On production, he said the continent accounted for 8.7 per cent (8.1 million barrels per day) of global oil production and 6.1 per cent (21.8 bscfd) of global gas production.

He further that the continent , consumed four Million barrels of oil per day and 13.7 bscfd of gas (equivalent to 4.1% and 3.9% of global oil and consumption ).(NAN)

Kill a python, go to jail, Zoo manager warn Nigerians

The Manager of Imo State Zoological Garden, Dr Francis Abioye, has cautioned Nigerians against killing protected animals including reptiles like python, saying doing so would attract jail term.

Abioye gave the warning on Thursday when he mobilised members of the zoo task force to arrest a resident of Nekede autonomous community in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo, accused of killing a python.

reports shows that the suspect, Mike Uzoma, allegedly killed the python and sold it on Wednesday.

The area where the python was killed is less than a kilometer away from the zoo.

However by the time the task force members got the community to effect the arrest, the suspect had fled.

The manager who addressed members of the community cautioned them against such act, explaining that all animals around the conservation area are protected by law.

Abioye warned that anybody who kills a python or any animal protected by the law will be arrested and prosecuted.

“I have come to educate all of you against the habit of killing animals that are protected by the law.

“Anybody caught killing such animal must be jailed because we cannot continue to watch people destroy our nature out of ignorance”, he said.

Abioye said rather than kill such animals, the residents should contact the zoo curator to capture them.

Some of the residents, who spoke, commended the manager for coming to educate them on why some special animals must be protected.

One of them, Mrs Angela Amaefula said she was ignorant of the law prohibiting the killing of some animals like python, and urged the zoo manager to make such enlightenment programme a regular event.

According to her, doing so would enable members of the public to become fully aware of the need to be friendly with such animals.

The CBN Under Godwin Emefiele

In the opinion of many experts on the economy and the financial markets, no governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has gone through the turbulence Godwin Emefiele had weathered in the last four years. Whether its economic recession, inflation or exchange rate, Nigerians had looked on anxiously for solutions from the CBN. And while all problems have not been solved, no one would deny that the ship had remained stable in the violent storm.

This must be why Mr Jim Ovia, the Chairman of Zenith Bank PLC, at a ceremony in December 2017, argued that Emefiele’s performance and current results “puts him as the best Central Bank Governor in the history of Nigeria.”

In truth, when Emefiele was appointed in June 2014 as Governor of the CBN to replace Sanusi Lamido, now Emir of Kano, he elicited high hopes. Coming from the private sector and as a high-flying Managing Director of the Zenith Bank, no one expected less from him.

He mounted the saddle at a time the economy had started weakening. So many things were happening at the same time. His first two years were tumultuous not just for Nigeria but the global economy, arising largely from the external shocks that hit, particularly the commodity exporting countries.

The shocks led to the plummeting of Nigeria’s reserves as crude oil price fell to a point where it dropped by February 2016, to as low as $28 per barrel. The fall was expected to be calamitous for the Nigerian economy which depended almost 90 per cent on oil revenue. And when you compare this price with the previous years when it averaged $100 per barrel for five straight years from 2009 to middle of 2014, the depth of the expected gloom becomes more glaring.

To make matters worse for many emerging and frontier markets including Nigeria, there was also the shock of the United States normalization which took about $40 billion away from these markets back to the US by the last quarter of 2016. There were also geopolitical tensions across the world and within Nigeria which affected the flow of funds. All these led to negative growth, and by the third quarter of 2016 it climaxed to a negative 2.3 per cent.

This period also saw inflation hitting the economy badly. By January 2016, inflation was just nine per cent, but by January 2017, prices have gone up and inflation had hit up to 18 per cent and Nigerians became uncomfortable.

But in keeping with his promise to run a central bank that spends its energies on building a resilient financial system that can serve the growth and development needs of the country, he and his team went to work. They came up with different measures to check inflation, stabilize the Naira and put the economy on a right footing.

The CBN was prompted to take drastic action by introducing the multiple forex system after some initial trials.  The system created the Inter-bank/Wholesale, Invisible, Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) and the Investors/Exporters’ windows. The Bureau De Change and Parallel market segments also existed in the new forex regime. This has brought great stability to the forex market, leading to remarkable acreage in foreign reserve (about $47.3 billion in April, 2018) and rise in capital inflow – $12.2 billion in 2017, representing increase of $7,104.4 million or 138.7 per cent, compared with the figure recorded in 2016.

The opening of the Investors’ & Exporters’ Forex Window was particularly exciting to foreign investors who took full advantage of it. In a period of six months, the window has attracted about $10 billion in inflows into Nigeria.

There is also improvement in purchasing managers index (56.7 per cent as at March, 2018) as well as rally in stock market capitalization. The CBN has maintained its weekly intervention in the forex market to the tune of over $18.1 billion since February 2017.  The economy exited recession Q2 2017, while inflation has dropped to 12.5 per cent in April 2018, from a high of 18.72 per cent in January 2016.

The CBN had also  in June 2015 excluded 41 items from being imported with forex accessed from the official forex market. This has increased patronage for local goods and stimulated local production significantly. Under Emefiele, activities of the Bureau De Change (BDC) operators have been brought under control to check the excesses by some of their members which reportedly led to the continued depreciation of the Naira over the years. The bank has also been actively involved in its periodic OMO interventions through which it mopped up excess liquidity to curtail inflation and boost investors’ confidence in Nigeria’s fixed income securities such as Treasury Bills and Bonds.

To encourage diversification of the economy and stimulate growth in the agriculture sector in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan, an innovative agric credit plan was put in place. The Anchor Borrowers Programme has transformed the agric sector in the country. Before we introduced the ABP, farmers go to farm rice and all the yield they were getting was one to 1.5 metric tonnes per hectare. But today farmers are getting yield as high as eight metric tonnes per hectare, reducing their costs and making it possible to make their money in rice cultivation.

The efforts of Emefiele’s CBN have not gone unnoticed. He has received several awards at home and abroad. The one that stands out was the 2017 “Best of Africa Achievement Award” given to him by Forbes in Washington DC, United States of America. Forbes Emerging Markets honours a person whose achievements falls within the mission of the organization, which is to promote further investment in Africa by United States investors. The only other Nigerian who had received the award is Aliko Dangote.

Forbe’s Chief Executive Officer, Corporate Council on Africa, Florizelle Liser, said Emefiele merited the honour because the body was happy to see the work that is being done on the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria and they believed it would pay off. He said: “Many of our members welcome it as an opportunity to see how they can trade more with Nigeria and invest more in Nigeria.”

In particular, the CBN’s support for agricultural development was commended as it would help the growth of agric- related businesses in the country.

There is no doubt that Emefiele has shown commitment to his philosophy of ‘Produce, add value and export’ (PAVE) and this has become evident in the last four years he’s led the CBN.Emefiele is a resilient financial engineer in a resilient economy.

Nigeria signs agreements with Afreximbank, NSIA, BoI to develop Special Economic Zones

Nigeria’s Federal Government today signed investment agreements with three Development Finance Institutions; Afreximbank, Bank of Industry and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) for the development of special economic zones in the country.

And with the signing, President Muhammadu Buhari, who presided over the ceremony at the Council Chambers of the Aso Rock Villa, declared the investment company in the special economic zones will become operational.

“Today, we are here to witness the signing of investment agreements, following which the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited will become fully operational,” he said.

The Federal Government set up NSEZCO Limited as a vehicle for participating in Public-Private Partnerships involving Federal and State governments and local and foreign private investors to develop new Special Economic Zones all over the country, offering world class infrastructure and facilities at competitive costs. The projects in the pilot phase include Enyimba Economic City, Funtua Cotton Cluster and Lekki Model Industrial Park.

The three DFIs are among the five to partner with NSEZCO and the Ministry of Finance Incorporated. NSEZCO intends to raise at least US$500million in equity over the first five years in order to execute its ambitious strategy of becoming a leading investor in special economic zones in the country. The other investment partners are African Development Bank (AfDB) and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).

Called Project MINE (Made in Nigeria for Exports) the development of special economic zones under the direct supervision of President Muhammudu Buhari, is a Presidential special priority intervention aimed using the zones to attract substantial foreign and domestic investment for the development of world-class facilities dedicated to export-oriented manufacturing in a range of industries across Nigeria.

Project MINE seeks to position Nigeria as the pre-eminent manufacturing hub in sub-Saharan Africa and as a major exporter of made in Nigeria goods and services regionally and globally; as well as boosting manufacturing’s share of Gross Domestic Product to 20 per cent; generating $30bn in annual export earnings; and creating 1.5 million new jobs all by 2025.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, President Buhari said the Federal Government set up the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company Limited as a vehicle for participating in Public Private Partnerships involving Federal and State governments and local and foreign private investors to develop new Special Economic Zones all over the country. He said, the projects in the pilot phase include Enyimba Economic City, Funtua Cotton Cluster and Lekki Model Industrial Park.

The President said, the Federal Government is implementing a comprehensive plan including: “The invitation of experienced Special Economic Zone developers and operators to partner with us to upgrade the Federal Government owned Free Trade Zones in Calabar and Kano, to offer world class standards of infrastructure and facilities. Whilst we await the completion of the process of bringing in these investors, the Federal Executive Council has approved the award of contracts in excess of N19.45 billion for the needed investment in Calabar and Kano Free Trade Zones and work is currently ongoing. This is the highest amount of capital investment ever in the history of these zones.

He said: “We have allocated substantial funds to upgrade the capabilities of our people and the systems in the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to strengthen it as a regulator of our Special Economic Zones; and

“We are allocating substantial resources to the provision of “outside the fence” infrastructure to ensure that our Special Economic Zones are connected to global, regional and domestic markets.

“We are reviewing our incentive framework to ensure competitiveness relative to the other countries with whom we are in the race to attract export oriented global manufacturing investment.”

He added that the Federal Government will extend the early successes achieved in Ease of Doing Business to the areas critical to globally competitive export-oriented manufacturing operations.

He thanked the investment partners for their “strong demonstrations of support for the important initiative.”

Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, whose ministry, Industry, Trade and Investment is implementing Project MINE, recalled President Buhari’s choice for special economic zones to hasten industrial development and the mandate to the ministry to attract investors to participate in the project.

“This is the reason we are here today. The investors have all agreed to partner with us,” he confirmed.

He said the initial projects such as the Enyimba Economic City are underway, while feasibility study is going on in eight states.

The signing of the agreement was done by Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank; My Kayode Pitan, Managing Director of Bank of Industry and Mr. Uche Orji, Managing Director of NSIA.

Mr. Femi Edun, a director of NSEZCO and Dr Bakari Wadinga, Director, Ministry of Finance Incorporated, signed on behalf of the company.

Speaking separately, they all thanked the Federal Government for the opportunity to participate in the project and said they are happy to be partners because they believe in it and are confident of its success.

Project MINE seeks to aid structural transformation of the Nigerian economy by increasing the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP to 20% by 2025;

It also seeks to contribute to sustainable inclusive growth by creating 1.5 million new direct manufacturing jobs in the initial phase of Project MINE.

Other objectives are:
· to Increase and diversify foreign exchange earnings to at least US$30bn annually by 2025, by increasing manufacturing sector exports;
· to Create local models of global best practice in provision of world class infrastructure at competitive costs connecting SEZs to international and regional markets with transport links, uninterrupted power, ICT, water, sewage and other services to ensure smooth and efficient operation of SEZ businesses;
· to Promote the “cluster” effect to be gained by locating similar export-oriented manufacturing businesses within the same locality;
· Attract world class investors with strong positions in global supply chains and investors with potential to increase the scale of operations rapidly to set up operations in SEZs; and
·Create an enabling environment for SEZ businesses by instituting best in class legal and regulatory frameworks, using technology and streamlined processes to facilitate movement of people, goods and capital and easy access to government services, approvals and permits

Lagos govt. threatens to shut Ladipo Market

The Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) said on Friday that it might close Ladipo Market in Mushin, till further notice, if the waste situation continued unabated.

LAWMA’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Obinna Onyenali, said that the attention of the authority had been drawn to the unwholesome environmental practices being carried out by traders at the Ladipo Market.

Onyenali said that such practices had resulted to indiscriminate dumping of waste and degradation of the environment.

He said that the authority had, in recent times, doubled its efforts to ensure that business transactions in all Lagos markets were conducted in a clean and safe environment.

According to him, the authority has doubled its efforts through timely deployment of trucks for waste evacuation and sweeping of the markets.

“However, these efforts are being tainted by the activities of mischievous persons who would rather dump their waste indiscriminately on the roads than patronise their assigned Private Sector Participation (PSP) operators.

“LAWMA condemns in strongest terms this unwholesome act, being perpetuated  by the traders of Ladipo Market, as it exposes the environment and the people that do business there to various health dangers.

“The authority seizes this opportunity to urge the merchants at the market to turn a new leaf or face the consequences of the Law.

“If these heinous acts against the environment continue unabated, the market will be shut till further notice,” he said in a statement.

Onyenali said that LAWMA wanted all markets to comply with the Environmental Laws of the state, which was essential for building a cleaner and healthier environment that everyone would be proud of.

“The Authority appeals to all residents in the state to always imbibe the habit of effective waste management by bagging their waste for easy evacuation by their assigned PSPs,” he said.

Jeff Bezos accuses tabloid National Enquirer of blackmail

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and world’s richest man,  on Thursday accused the publisher of the National Enquirer of blackmail after it threatened to publish intimate photographs sent by the billionaire to his mistress if he did not cease his investigation into how the newspaper got the pictures.

It comes after the tabloid, having accessed private text messages, last month reported Bezos had an extramarital affair with former news anchor and entertainment reporter Lauren Sanchez — a leak that led to his divorce.

In a post on blogging platform Medium Thursday, Bezos said Enquirer publisher American Media Inc (AMI), led by David Pecker, approached him with a threat to publish the photos if he did not halt an investigation into the motives behind the leak.

He added the publication demanded he and security consultant Gavin de Becker, who is leading the probe, publically state they had “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

De Becker mentioned in a recent Daily Beast interview that “strong leads point to political motives” — and that he was interested in Lauren Sanchez’s brother Michael, a vocal supporter of US President Donald Trump with links to his inner circle, as a possible perpetrator.

And in his Medium post, Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, pointed to AMI and David Pecker’s previous cooperation with Trump — including payments made to suppress negative stories, currently under investigation by federal prosecutors. One involves a woman who said she had an affair with Trump.

The hush money payment, and a similar one to another woman, was made on the eve of the 2016 election that Trump won. Trump is suspected of campaign finance violations because of the disbursements on grounds they were made to affect the outcome of the vote and should therefore have been reported to government campaign monitors.

Bezos, his newspaper and Amazon are all regular targets of Trump’s signature Twitter tirades.

Bezos also raised the publisher’s links to Saudi Arabia — whose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accused of directing the murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

“My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me. It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy,” Bezos wrote in the blog post.

“President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.”

He added: “Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote in the post, which was entitled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker” and included copies of emails from AMI.

“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favours, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out,” he added.

*Read Bezos response to National Enquirer in

Pension fund assets hit N8.6trn -PenCom

The National Pension Commission (PenCom) says total pension fund assets have grown to N8.63 trillion as at December 2018.

Ms Aisha Dahir-Umar, its Acting Director-General, disclosed this at the public hearing of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee in Abuja on Thursday.

The committee is mandated to investigate activities of PenCom and alleged violation of Acts establishing it.

Dahir-Umar said the fund had an average monthly contribution of N29.15 billion, while the total pension assets were equivalent to 7.40 per cent of the Nigerian rebased GDP.

She said  that the pool of pension funds generated by the Contributory Pension Scheme had aided the deepening of Nigeria’s financial sector.

The PenCom boss said that the fund had also provided a platform for attaining strategic programmes of government in the areas of infrastructure, housing and the development of the real sector of the economy.

She said that the number of registered contributors grew to 8.41 million as at December 2018.

According to her, this figure represents about 12.09 per cent of Nigeria’s working population and 4.29 per cent of total Nigeria population.

She said that the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) had simplified the process of payment of retirement benefits through the issuance of effective regulations and guidelines for accessing such benefits.

Dahir-Umar also disclosed that 260,808 persons had retired under the Scheme as at December 2018 and were currently receiving pensions as and when due with an average monthly pension payment of N10.18 billion.

“The pension reform has gained public confidence and acceptability within the short period of its implementation.

“The private sector, which hitherto was apprehensive of the CPS as a ploy by the public sector to raise funds to address its huge pension liabilities, has come to accept and is religiously implementing the reform.

“To date, about 200,000 private sector employers of labour are implementing the CPS and have contributed about 60 per cent of the total pension fund assets.

“The Contributory Pension Scheme has also introduced transparency and integrity in the pension administration system in Nigeria and inception of the reform to date, there had not been a single incidence of fraud or mismanagement of the pension funds and assets under the Scheme.

“Attracted by the enormous benefits of the Scheme, 24 States of the Federation and the FCT had enacted the laws on the CPS and are at different stages of implementation, six States are at the Bill stage on the CPS, three states have adopted the Contributory Defined Benefit Scheme (CDBS).

“And two states are currently drafting Bills to introduce CDBS, while one state has continued with the Defined Scheme as at December, 2018,” she said.

The PenCom boss said that Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) was established to handle issues of Federal Government’s retirees exempted from the CPS subject to the regulation and supervision of PenCom.

“Indeed, payment of pensions to public sector retirees by PTAD has become more regular and efficient under the supervisory oversight of PenCom.

“The pension reform has also positively impacted on other sectors of the Nigerian economy. Notably, the reform facilitated the growth of Group Life Insurance and development of Life Annuity in the insurance industry.

“Indeed, monthly pension payment under the Life Annuity Scheme has average of N3.15 billion as at December 2018.

“It is also noteworthy that the total premium paid to insurance companies for the monthly Life Annuity was N304.09 billion as at December, 2018.

“This has significantly assisted the growth of the insurance industry in Nigeria which is a special focus area under the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP),” she said. (NAN)

Naira closes at N362.19 to dollar

The Naira on Tuesday’s closed at N363.19 to the dollar at the investors window, just as market turnover stood at 441.38 million dollars.

At the parallel market, the Naira sustained gains, closing at N358 to the dollar, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro traded at N472 and N411, respectively.

Trading at the Bureau De Change (BDC) segment saw the naira closing at N360 to the dollar, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro traded at N472 and N411, respectively.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the naira had remained stable at the parallel market due largely to the aggressive interventions by the CBN and the collaborations of BDCs.(NAN)

2019 election: Buhari not sharing public funds – VON DG, Okechukwu

The Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osita Okechukwu, on Tuesday, said that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was not sharing public funds, rather was investing the funds, in the nation’s critical infrastructures.

Okechukwu, who stated this in an interview with BENGBENRO, shortly after the APC Presidential campaign rally held in Aba, Abia State on Tuesday, reiterated the commitment of the Buhari-led administration to tackle the infrastructural deficits in the country, so as to enable investments and businesses thrive, for the general well being of the people.

The APC chieftain also lauded the recently-commissioned 9.5MW Independent Power Plant at Ariaria Market in Aba by President Buhari, saying, that would enhance the economic and industrial development of the commercial city (Aba).

Okechukwu, however, commended the people of Abia State and South East in general for the warm reception being accorded to the APC presidential candidate and the incumbent, President Buhari, urging them to massively vote for APC to enable south East zone to take its shot at the Aso villa in 2023.

His words, “I thank the people of Abia State for their turn out to welcome Mr. President. It shows that the South East is coming to the reality that President Muhammadu Buhari is the best for the country today.

“Because, he had embarked on most laudable infrastructural development of the country, spanning from 5000 kilometres of federal roads,5000 kilometre of standard railway,additional 5000 megawatts of electricity.

“What was demonstrated today, in the Ariaria Market Aba, where Mr President in the past year, had instructed that major markets and industrial bases of the country should have mini solar power plants.

“And the Ariaria Market own has been commissioned, and the traders are happy about that, and also the manufacturing concerns, especially the small scale entrepreneurs and Medium scale entrepreneurs in Aba.

“It is a good joy that President Buhari, is not sharing public funds, but he is investing the people’s money in critical infrastructures, so that the nation’s economic development will prosper, and our people, the entrepreneurs can expand their economic talents in different sectors of economic and industrial development.

“It is no more the issue of sharing money. It is now that the investment is coming in real terms, so that a lot of people could advance themselves without the government. This is where we are heading to.”