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Government will Leverage Economic Recovery on Financial Inclusion, Osinbajo tells UN



…As Queen Maxima grieves: Only 2% of Nigerians Can use mobile money!***

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday in Abuja said that the country needs to ensure financial inclusiveness for all towards the revamp of the nation’s economy.

He stated this while hosting Queen Maxima of Netherlands who is also the UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for inclusive finance for development.

The Queen came on a working visit to evaluate the level of Citizens’ access to savings and insurance payment credit, premising that even these could make Nigerians move out of poverty by investing in small businesses, creating income, employing people and saving  for the rainy day.

Welcoming his distinguished guest, Osinbajo stressed the importance of financial inclusiveness, particularly for development of the individual, community and country.

“Of course, financial inclusion is absolutely important for us as an economy.

“We need to be able to ensure that all of our people, wherever they live, no matter how far away they are can be reached with financial products; have bank accounts.

“Payments can be made to them and they also can make payments; in other words they can participate in the entire financial architecture that the country offers and even that the international community offers.

“And that really is important for development, for their development as individuals and as communities.’’

The Vice President acknowledged the Queen’s second visit to the country to find out how far the country had gone with its financial inclusion plans and projects.

Responding, Queen Maxima highlighted that “Nigeria is a country of enormous potential where financial inclusion should be playing great role for your development.’’

The Queen stated that having access to savings, insurance payment credit could make the people move out of poverty and invest in small businesses, create income, employ people and save for the rainy day.

“Financial inclusiveness is a key element to support the economic growth recovery plan being championed by you.

“Since 2008 Nigeria has actually made progress growing from 23 per cent to 48 per cent of financial inclusion.

“But still more than half of Nigerians have to deal without very basic financial services that you and I rely on every day.

“And in the last couple of years progress has been stalled and there is a moment to renew this commitment and leadership on financial inclusion,’’ she added.

The Queen urged Nigeria to maximize the use of mobile money and make it sustainable, responsive and safe for all Nigerians.

According to her the country has many potentials in that respect while many countries have already achieved it.

She said only two per cent of Nigerians could use mobile money in contrast to 70 per cent in Ghana and higher numbers in other parts of the world.

She stressed the need for strong ICT systems and assured that the UN would assist the country build a strong financial inclusive system.

Specifically, she urged Government to leverage on technology to provide useful and affordable financial products and services to people living in remote areas of the country.

Speaking on the same note when she visited the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja and the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Queen said she was in Nigeria to see how far the country had gone in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UN advocate said her visit was also in connection to see how far Nigeria had achieved financial inclusion.

She advised the government to leverage on the current mobile phone penetration put about 63 per cent to deliver key banking services to the people.

She said that the potentialities in achieving financial inclusion were enormous, adding that it was possible for Nigeria to address perceived issues that would help its citizens reap the benefits of financial inclusion.

“From 2008 to 2016, there has been very decent progress in raising the bar of financial included people from 28 per cent to 58.6 per cent in Nigeria.

“Since 2014, a couple of things have changed from financial literacy policy, regulations for agent banking and other reforms to strengthen this issue even more.

“However, in the last years, growth has flattened up and in some cases, we have seen reductions. But it is still possible to achieve the target of 80 per cent financial inclusion by 2020.

“I think now is time to sit down again and review your objectives and review your National Financial Inclusion strategy to see what needs to be done.

“There is huge potential now. Maybe 15 years ago, trying to reach that target would have been impossible, but now technology really offers us a fantastic window of opportunity,’’ she said.

Maxima identified some of the issues in the way of achieving financial inclusion to include: consumer protection, infrastructure as well as connectivity.

She stressed need for cooperation between the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ministry of Finance and other relevant agencies to militate against perceived risks to achieving financial inclusion.

“A lot of countries have addressed these issues, it is not impossible.

“We will keep working toward that. We are prepared to help Nigeria to this journey of addressing the risks, identifying them and see the best ways to approach them with the help of regulators.”

Receiving the queen, Adeosun, said access to banking services remained a problem, particularly for the rural women in the country.

She said that looking at the geography of Nigeria; it wouldn’t be viable to have bank branches everywhere, thus the need to take innovative actions.

“We have a lot of young people who are underutilised and underemployed but are technology savvy.

“We started with our social intervention programmes, the concepts of keeping people within their communities and paying them to work in those communities under the N-Power scheme, the N-Teach.

“We also have the Community Tax Officers who are going round to sensitise people about the tax system.

“We will see how we can piggyback some of that work around financial inclusion, how we can marry some of these opportunities, “she said.

Adeosun said that looking at the Social Intervention Programmes of the Federal Government; it might create an opportunity to introduce banking services to the people in the remote areas of the country.

Also, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele pledged Nigeria’s commitment to achieving 80 per cent financial inclusion rate by 2020.

“The bank have introduced a lot of initiatives prominent among are: the Agent Banking Framework, the Know your Customer framework, the Micro Small and Medium Entreprise framework and the National Collateral Registry.

“We have also introduced the Credit Bureau and Credit Scoring System and released Financial Literacy and Consumer Protection Framework.

“On the back of these reforms, I’m pleased to tell you that, we have moved from 46 per cent exclusion rate in 2010 to 41.6 per cent in 2016.

“To achieve the exclusion rate of 20 per cent by 2020 across the country, we are priotising interventions and creating awareness to ensure patronage, incorporating non-financial services into the CBN’s intervention programmes,” he said.

Emefiele said that CBN had also increased sensitisation campaign to encourage citizens to adopt digital financial services and other simple alternative channels.


Troops Destroy 51 Illegal Refining Sites, Recover Stolen Crude Oil – DHQ



….Destroy 7 dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, one outboard engine, others

The Defence Headquarters says  troops of Operation Delta Safe have  destroyed 51 illegal oil refining sites and recovered stolen crude oil and refined products in the Niger Delta in the last one week.

The Director of Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Edward Buba, disclosed  in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Buba said the troops also apprehended 58 perpetrators of oil theft and denied them of  estimated sum of N668.7 million

He said the troops destroyed seven dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, 141 cooking ovens, one pumping machine, one outboard engine, one tricycle, one speedboat and one tugboat.

According to him, troops recovered 267,700 litres of stolen crude oil, 567,700 litres of illegally refined AGO and 5,000 litres of DPK.

“Troops has maintained momentum against oil theft and arrested persons involved in oil theft in Bonny and Ikpoba Local Government Areas of Rivers and Edo States respectively.

“Troops also arrested suspected armed robbers and foiled illegal bunkering activities in Oshimili South and Ukwa West of Delta and Abia States respectively,” he said.

In the South East, Buba said  troops of Operation UDO KA arrested 15 suspected criminals and repelled attacks by IPOB/ESN criminals in Anambra, Abia and Imo States.

He said the troops conducted raids and rescued kidnapped hostages in Ishielu and Igbo Eze North Local Government Areas of Ebonyi and Enugu States respectively.

He said the troops neutralised three criminals, rescued five kidnapped hostages and recovered 14 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammo.

In the South West, Buba said  troops of Operation AWATSE foiled armed robbery attacks in Orelope and Olorunsogo Local Government Areas of Oyo State and arrested a gunrunner in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun.

According to him, troops rescued 15 kidnapped hostages and recovered two vehicles.

“All recovered items, arrested suspects and rescued hostages were handed over to the relevant authority for further action,” he added.

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NEPZA Boss Says Nation’s Free Trade Zones Not Really `Free’



The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says the country’s Free Trade Zones are business anchorages that have for decades been used to generate revenues for the Federal Government.

Dr Olufemi Ogunyemi, the Managing Director of NEPZA, said this in a statement by the authority’s
Head of Corporate Communications, Martins Odeh, on Monday in Abuja, stressing that the the widely held notion that the scheme is a `free meal ticket’ for investors and not a means for the government to generate revenue is incorrect.

Ogunyemi said this public statement was essential to clarify the misunderstanding by various individuals and entities, in and out of government, on the nature of the scheme.

He reiterated the authority’s commitment to enhancing public knowledge of the principal reason for the country’s adoption of the scheme by the NEPZA Act 63 of 1992.

“The Free Trade Zones are not hot spots for revenue generation. Instead, they exist to support socioeconomic development.

“These include but are not limited to industrialisation, infrastructure development, employment generation, skills acquisition, foreign exchange earnings, and Foreign Direct Investments(FDI) inflows,” Ogunyemi said.

The managing director said the NEPZA Act provided exemption from all federal, state, and local government taxes, rates, levies, and charges for FZE, of which duty and VAT were part.

“However, goods and services exported into Nigeria attract duty, which includes VAT and other charges.

“In addition, NEPZA collects over 20 types of revenues, ranging from 500,000 dollars-Declaration fees, 60,000 dollars for Operation License (OPL) Renewal Fees between three and five years.

“There is also the 100-300 dollar Examination and Documentation fees per transaction, which occurs daily.

“There are other periodic revenues derived from vehicle registration and visas, among others.

“The operations within the free trade zones are not free in the context of the word,” he said.

Ogunyemi said the global business space had contracted significantly, adding that to win a sizable space would require the ingenuity of the government to either expand or maintain the promised incentives.

“These incentives will encourage more multinational corporations and local investors to leverage on the scheme, which has a cumulative investment valued at 30 billion dollars.

“The scheme has caused an influx of FDIs; it has also brought advanced technologies, managerial expertise, and access to global markets.

“For instance, the 52 FTZs with 612 enterprises have and will continue to facilitate the creation of numerous direct and indirect jobs, currently estimated to be within the region of 170,000,” he said.

Ogunyemi said an adjustment in title and introduction of current global business practices would significantly advance the scheme, increasing forward and backward linkages.

“This is with a more significant market offered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).

“We have commenced negotiations across the board to ensure that the NEPZA Act is amended to give room for adjusting the scheme’s title from `Free Trade Zones to Special Economic Zones respectively.

“This will open up the system for the benefit of all citizens,” he said.

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2023 CLPA: Policy Cohesion Imperative For Implementation Of AfCFTA Agreements, Others



Some policy experts and stakeholders have called for policy cohesion across Africa for the successful implementation of multilateral policy decisions.

They spoke on Wednesday during one of the plenaries at the 2023 Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA), held in Addis Ababa.

The CLPA, the fifth in the series, is organised by the tripartite consortium consisting of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The 2023 edition has the theme, ‘Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation’.

Dr Medhat El-Helepi (ECA), chaired the plenary with the sub-theme: ‘Land Governance, Regional Integration, and Intra-Africa Trade: Opportunities and Challenges’.

Panelists at the plenary included Dr Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade, ECA; Mr Tsotetsi Makong, Head of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance, AfCFTA Secretariat.

Others were Mr Kebur Ghenna, CEO, of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) and Ms Eileen Wakesho, Director of Community Land Protection at Namati, Kenya.

The event also attracted various stakeholders, including traditional leaders, Civil Society Organisations, and policy decision-makers.

Makong expressed worries over the reluctance of some participants to openly discuss some matters, pleading ‘no go areas of domestic affairs’.

He, however, noted that the issues of land were within the limit of domestic regulations, adding that tenure land security was the solution that would allow intra-African investment that is still low in Africa.

Makong pointed out that the success of the investment protocol under the AfCFTA would depend on countries’ domestic laws that should be in line with the AfCFTA.

“There are guidelines on land reforms that need to be turned into regulations within the domestic systems.

“Policy coherence has to be at the heart of what we do. This can be achieved by engaging everyone including women and youth at the grassroots level.

“Also, you cannot be talking of AfCFTA as of it is just about Ministers of Trade, Economy or Investment. The idea is a totality of the entire governance structure. This is very important,” he said.

Speakers also noted that inclusive land governance was one of the key pillars to enhance Africa’s drive to improve intra-African trade, food security, and sustainable food systems.

They said an inclusive governance system would allow stakeholders to create transparency, subsidiarity, inclusiveness, prior informed participation, and social acceptance by affected communities in land-based initiatives beyond their borders.

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