Okomu Oil: We began Whistleblowing, before Nigeria – Hefer

Mr Graham Hefer
  • As MAN urges CBN to reduce lending rate from 14% at MPC meeting

The management of Okomu Oil Palm Company in Edo, said on Sunday, that it had spent N20 million on whistle blowers who saved the company from incurring losses.

The company’s Managing Director, Mr Graham Hefer, stated this in Benin, adding  that the company had adopted whistle blowing policy for over 10 years now.

Hefer said that the company adopted the policy to prevent theft of its produce such as palm fruits and rubber as well as prevent its staff from illicit operations within and outside the company.

He said that the policy had been very rewarding to the company and commended the Federal Government for adopting the policy to prevent corruption in government offices.

He said that of the company’s 33,000 hectares of farmland, 18,000 had been used for palm tree cultivation while 8,000 hectares was being used for cultivation of rubber trees.

The managing director said that the company planned to cultivate additional 1,000 hectares of rubber trees in 2018.

He said that the company had some challenges including lack of power supply and bad roads which affected its cost of production.

Hefer said that the challenges also made it difficult for the company to compete effectively with its contemporaries outside the country.

He said that the company had spent about N200 million on its corporate social responsibility programme in the last two years and also budgeted N250 million for it this year.

Hefer said about 27 youths from the host and neighbouring communities currently studying in universities across the country were enjoying the company’s scholarship scheme.

“We provided bole holes, built schools, built town halls and assisted the police in repairing their vehicles.

“We are motivated to carry out the projects because of the good relationship we enjoy with the host and neighouring communities of Okomu Oil Palm Company,” he said.

In the meantime, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to drop the lending rate from 14 per cent to accelerate productivity and economic growth.

The President of MAN, Mr Frank Jacobs, made the appeal on Sunday in Lagos.

CBN had maintained a 14 per cent lending rate to commercial banks since July 26, 2016 in its bid to check inflation and stimulate economic growth.

Jacobs urged the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee to review the lending rate downward at its next meeting slated for May 22 and 23.

According to him, the high interest rate regime had stifled growth, productivity and competitiveness of manufacturers.

He noted that with the appreciation of the naira and further drop in inflation rate, friendlier policies that would stimulate economic growth and boost production should be embraced.

Jacobs also urged CBN to create five per cent concessionary interest rate for manufacturers to drive the nation’s diversification agenda and increase contribution to the Gross Domestic Product.

“If manufacturers have access to low interest rate as done in other climes, we will be able to employ more people and create wealth for the nation through tax,” he said.

Jacobs said that with concessionary interest rate, manufacturers would be able to expand their businesses, create wealth, boost productivity and catalyse economic transformation.