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Traders seek urgent repair of Lagos-Badagry expressway

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Some traders plying Lagos-Seme road have urged the Federal Government to repair the Lagos-Badagry expressway and lift the ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders.

The traders made the appeal in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Tuesday.

A commercial driver plying between Seme and Cotonou,  Mr Joy Sagbohan, said the deteriorating state of the road had affected his business.

“Many of our customers now prefer to go through Idiroko to Cotonou instead of going through Seme border.

“Before the road got worse, I usually  realised between N20,000 to N15,000 daily, but now I hardly realise between N2,500 to N1,500 after fueling the bus.

“It is difficult for me to repair my vehicle due to the low income as a result of bad roads from Lagos to Badagry.

“My colleagues and I are facing a lot of challenges encountering immigration officers,  but we have a good relationship with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS); they do not inconvenience us in any form,” Sogbohan said.

Another driver,  Mr Mamudu Paraiso, urged Nigerian government to caution some its agencies to stop extorting travellers at the border areas.

“Since the Economic Community of West African States  has told the two countries to encourage free movement from the border areas, some Nigeria regulatory agencies still extort money to allow movement into Nigeria area.

“Since the borders have been closed to importation of vehicles,  car dealers are no longer coming to board our vehicles to Cotonou,” Paraiso said.

He urged government to open the border posts for importation of vehicles to enable  traders and commercial motorists to  earn some income to feed their families

Mrs Nofisat Kareem, a former cosmetics  dealer who ended up as a pure water seller, said she change her business because she could no longer make profit from cosmetics.

She said she was trading between Lagos International Trade fair area to Seme.

Kareem said she had no option than to go into pure water business to enable her feed her children.

Another trader, Mrs Mercy Jude,  also lamented the poor state of Lagos-Badagry express road, saying  that she used to  travel once a weekon the route to buy Dettol disinfectant in Lagos.

She urged government to look into multiple checkpoints along the routes mounted by Nigerian officials extorting money from the traders.

Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Tajudeen Atitebi

aishacole4real@gamil.com

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Economy

Dubai’s non-oil trade with Africa to exceed AED1trn by end of 2019 -Chamber Chairman

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Oil

By: Edwin Nwachukwu

Dubai (UAE) Nov. 19, 2019  Dubai’s non-oil trade with Africa will exceed Dhs1 trillion for the period extending from 2011 until the end of 2019, the Chairman of Dubai Chamber, Mr Majid Al Ghurair has said,

Al Ghurair made this known while declaring open the 5th edition of the Global Business Forum on Africa (GBF Africa) which opened on Monday in Dubai.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the forum which  is organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dubai Chamber) under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, end on Tuesday.

Al Ghurair highlighted the long-established UAE-African relations in all fields, and Dubai’s status as Africa’s gateway to new markets building on its strong presence on the global economy map and its role in advancing international trade.

He said that over the course of its five previous editions, GBF Africa had become a leading Platform for expanding UAE-Africa economic cooperation and forging partnerships across different markets.

”The African continent is a key partner in Dubai’s plans to diversify its economy.

”With the support of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the forum has seen considerable growth in terms of significance and number of participants, bringing together heads of state, policymakers and business leaders to identify exciting business prospects emerging across the continent.

”The African market is a market of strategic importance to Dubai and a key focus of Dubai Chamber’s expansion strategy and we are closely monitoring developments and the business climate in Africa to identify growth opportunities available for our members,” Al Ghurair added.

He, however, underlined the huge potential to boost UAE-Africa trade and investment flows following the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area earlier in the year.

Al Ghurair also asserted that Dubai was well-equipped to support Africa’s next phase of growth and development, especially as the emirate offers valuable expertise in several key sectors, including logistics services, infrastructure, retail, tourism and finance.

“Held under the theme ‘Scale-Up Africa’, GBF Africa 2019 is among the world’s largest events focusing on Africa’s economic potential, highlighting business and investment potential and opportunities on the continent.

“Africa’s changing economic landscape is creating new business opportunities,” he said.

Participants at the event included George Weah, President of Liberia; Danny Faure, President of Seychelles; Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe and Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, Prime Minister of Mozambique.

Others are Ruhakana Ruganda, Prime Minister of Uganda; Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General, Expo 2020 Dubai; Majid Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber; Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber and Dr Raja Easa Al Gurg, President of Dubai Business Women Council, among other prominent speakers.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Economy

NSE All-Share Index bows to profit booking, down by 0.60%

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The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) opened trading for the week on Monday with a loss of 0.60 per cent, amid profit taking as predicted by some market analysts.

Speficially, the All Share Index shed 160.59 or 0.60 per cent to close at 26,691.09 compared with 26,851.68 achieved on Friday.

Similarly, the market capitalisation which opened at N13.071 trillion shed lost N188 billion to close at N12.883 trillion.

The downturn was impacted by losses recorded in medium and large capitalised stocks, amongst which are; Okomu Oil, Access Bank, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Caverton Offshore Support Group.

Commenting on the market performance, analysts at United Capital said “this week, we expect investors to continue to lock in gains in stocks with strong fundamentals, as the system remains awash with liquidity.”

Also, analysts at Imperial Asset Managers expect “more liquidity inflows into the equity market as investors continue to search for alternative asset to deploy idle fund”.

They said that traders were expected to take marginal profit witnessed last week, noting that buying interest remained strong in most listed equities irrespective of the NSE-ASI loss.

However, market breadth closed positive, with 16 gainers in contrast with14 losers.

Wema Bank led the losers’ chart in percentage terms with a loss of 7.89 per cent, to close at 70k per share.

FCMB Group came second with a decline of 7.50 per cent to close at N1.85, while Caverton Offshore lost 7.41 per cent to close at N2.50 per share.

Access Bank and ETI lost 6.67 per cent each, to close at N9.80 and N7.00, respectively, while Okomu Oil shed 5.57 per cent to close at N50 per share.

Conversely, Neimeth recorded the highest price gain in percentage terms with a gain of 10 per cent to close at 44k per share.

Jaiz Bank followed with a gain of 9.86 per cent to close at 78k, while Ikeja Hotel increased by 9.47 per cent to close at N1.04 per share.

Custodian Investment inched 9.09 per cent to close at N6, while Courteville appreciated by 8.70 per cent to close at 25k per share.

Also, the volume of shares traded closed lower as investors bought and sold 307.96 million shares worth N2.54 billion in 4,609 deals.

This was in contrast with a turnover of 469.99 million shares valued at N5.59 billion transacted in 5,594 deals on Friday.

Transactions in the shares of UACN topped the activity chart with 102.55 million shares valued at N636.15 million.

Zenith Bank followed with 29.44 million shares worth N555.84 million, while UBA traded 20.81 million shares worth N147.44 million.

Access Bank sold 20.24 million shares valued at N195.62 million, while FBN Holdings transacted 14.67 million shares worth N96.65 million.

Edited by Tayo Ikujuni/Oluwole Sogunle

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Economy

Brown to replace Avuru as Seplat CEO

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Seplat Plc on Monday announced the retirement of Mr Austin Avuru, as its Chief Executive Officer, effective July 31, 2020.

The company, in a post listing requirement filing obtained from the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) website, said thay Avuru would be replaced by Mr Roger Brown, its Chief Finance Officer.

The statement said that Avuru was retiring after 10 years of leading the company.

“In these 10 years, Avuru led the development of a strong organisation, the deployment of agile systems, processes and stakeholder relationships that allowed the organisation to grow rapidly.

“The board of SEPLAT is grateful to Avuru for these accomplishments and is looking forward to his continued service at the board level.

“Looking forward, Seplat plans to position itself for a next phase growth ambition which would see the expansion of its footprint in terms of energy business activities, a plan to pursue offshore assets as well as opportunity driven entry into different geographies.

“The company believes that such a corporate transition would require a different kind of organisational structure, people skills set and mentality to compete well in the expanded space.

“In view of this, Seplat will be reviewing its current organisational and systems structure,” it said.

It stated that the board had decided that the CEO designate would lead the restructuring during the transition period between now and final exit date of Avuru on July 31, 2020.

The statement said that Brown joined SEPLAT in 2013 as the CFO and played a key role in the successful dual listing of the company in 2014.

Edited by Wale Ojetimi

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Economy

Ikpeazu presents N136.6bn budget estimates for 2020

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Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia on Monday presented N136,617 billion Appropriation Bill for the 2020 fiscal year to the state House of Assembly.

The bill, tagged “Budget of economic repositioning”, has a Capital Expenditure outlay of N69.8 billion, representing 51.1 per cent, and Recurrent Expenditure of N66.8 billion, representing 48.9 per cent.

Ikpeazu said that the budget outlay was less than N140. 9 billion for 2019 because of his administration’s resolve to formulate a realistic budget.

He further said that government would work hard to improve revenue generation and expenditure management approach.

The budget also had an expected  Recurrent Revenue of N106.9 billion, which is made of N67.2 billion from the statutory allocation from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), representing 63.9 per cent of the revenue.

News of Agency Nigeria reports that it also had a projected Independent Revenue of N39.6 billion, representing 37.1 per cent of the revenue.

The governor said that the draft estimates were intended to strategically strengthen his administration’s achievement, especially in creating conducive environment for local and foreign investors.

According to him, the budget will also provide opportunities for human capital development, revitalising social services as well as building critical infrastructure for sustainable development.

Ikpeazu said: “In 2020, we will work to ensure completion of ongoing projects while re-envisioning new ones that will open new frontiers.

“We will ensure that only projects and programmes provided for in 2020 budget are funded,” Ikpeazu said.

In a speech, the Speaker, Mr Chinedum Orji, commended the governor and his team for early presentation of the bill to the house.

Orji said that such a laudable feat had not been achieved in recent time.

He promised the continued support of the seventh assembly to the governor, assuring him of accelerated hearing and passage of the bill.

He urged the governor to ensure at least 75 per cent implementation of the budget, when finally passed.

“This will fast track the repositioning of Abia economy with improvement in the most critical sectors, such as job creation, development of infrastructure and Small and Medium Enterprises in the state,” he said.

(Edited by Chidinma Agu/Sam Oditah)

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Economy

PTAD commences verification of 7,000 retirees in FCT

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The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has commenced verification of about 7,000 retirees in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Executive Secretary of PTAD, Dr Chioma Ejikeme, told the Nigeria News Agency, during the exercise in Abuja on Monday.

Ejikeme said the verification was going on simultaneously in the three various centres in the FCT.

She said that those expected to participate in the exercise were retirees from defunct N, PHCN and universities, which included both academic and non-academics staff among others.

According to her, the exercise will last for six days while those that missed it will participate in the continuous verification in PTAD office.

“We are trying to put together the data we have collated, thereafter we will come out with a statement regarding the result of the verification.

“We have created awareness through various media and pension unions, to inform respective retirees about the exercise.

“We have been getting good response from the awareness we created for the large turnout of concerned retirees for the verification,”she explained.

She said that the directorate was committed to ensuring that the retirees were given required and deserved comforts through out the verification programme.

Edited by Remi Koleoso/Ifeyinwa Omowole

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Economy

Lagos automobile dealers protest sealing of their businesses by Customs

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Automobile dealers under the aegis of Automobile Dealers Friends Association on Monday protested the sealing of their businesses by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) as a result of a crackdown on cars suspected to have been smuggled through the land borders.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that over 100 protesting members of the Association had from 10am walked from Awolowo Road Ikeja to the State House of Assembly.

They stopped at the office of the Federal Operations Unit of the NCS at Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja protesting the crackdown which began on Sep. 30. The protest ended at 2.56pm.

The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions such as “Customs we are not smiling, we are tired since September 30, 2019,” “Enough of the injustice, unseal our shops,” “Customs, come and take the smuggled vehicles you collected duty on.”

At the NCS office, Mr Morgan Ogbede, the Chairman of the Association and other executives engaged in a closed-door meeting with Mr Mohammed Aliyu, the Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit Zone A and other officials of the NCS.

At the end of the meeting, Aliyu addressed the protesters telling them that their grievances will be addressed.

Speaking to NAN, Ogbede gave an insight into his meetings with officials of the House of Assembly and the NCS.

He said the NCS had promised to unseal their shops if the required duties were paid on allegedly smuggled cars.

“The State House of Assembly said that they will bring our petition to the notice of the Nigerian Customs Service and communicate back to us for a lasting resolution of the issues.

“At the Federal Operations Unit of the NCS, the Comptroller, Mr Mohammed Aliyu told us that if we know we have any smuggled cars in our lot, that we should come forward and make payment.

“If we do not have, he will be able to assist us in opening our shops pending when they will resolve the issues with the additional payments from already cleared cars from the Abuja office.”

Ogbede said he was satisfied with the consensus reached by the Association and the NCS.

He said that Aliyu was also informed about other challenges faced by the automobile dealers.

“Apart from the closure of our shops, we told them about the issues of harassment, intimidation and extortion on our customers using the eastern roads outside Lagos.

“Aliyu said when we get to Abuja, we should lay the complaints to the Comptroller-General of the NCS as it will be very risky leaving the road unmanned,” he said.

Ogbede also said that the Association still intended to file a suit in court demanding compensation for the various losses its members had suffered as a result of the closure of their shops two months ago.

Edited by Oluwole Sogunle

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