By Dipo Olowookere
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, has charged Nigerians to stay focused together so as to rescue the nation’s economy from the stranglehold of recession.
Mr Ambode made this known on Saturday at the Independence Parade held at the Police College Ground in Ikeja to mark Nigeria at 56.
The Governor said the never say die spirit of resilience, resourcefulness and determination that Nigerians display to succeed in all spheres of human endeavour was well recognised and acknowledged all over the globe, saying that the nation has great potentials to rank among the most prosperous countries in the world.
Mr Ambode, who was represented at the occasion by his Deputy, Mrs Oluranti Adebule, disclosed that, “I wish to use this opportunity to make a passionate appeal, more than ever before, that we must renew our belief in the Nigeria Project and play our parts diligently. At this trying and challenging time, we must aggregate our strength and be united in focus to rescue our economy from the stranglehold of recession.
“We all need one another to survive as no part of Nigeria can do it all alone and still wield or command the kind of influence that Nigeria currently enjoys in the comity of Nations. This is not a time to despair. It is a time to review our patriotic zeal and stand firm with our leaders at all levels in our collective efforts to make Nigeria work for all.”
He said his pact with residents of Lagos to run an all-inclusive government and make lives more comfortable for everyone was not just a slogan, adding that in the last 16 months, his administration has demonstrated through its actions that it was a clear statement of commitment which it is determined to actualize within the shortest time possible.
“The government and people of Lagos State are delighted to join fellow compatriots across the nation in celebrating our nation’s 56th independence anniversary today.
“As we celebrate today, I enjoin all Lagosians to remain steadfast and hopeful for a better tomorrow. The future of our State is certainly brighter than anyone can imagine. Let us therefore forge a common front to defend our hard earned freedom by being purposeful, focused and disciplined. May the labour of our heroes past never be in vain,” the Governor said.
Afe Babalola Donates N13.2m to Revamp Agriculture in Ekiti
By Adedapo Adesanya
Legal luminary and educator, Mr Afe Babalola, has donated N13.2 million to outstanding farmers in Ekiti State as part of efforts to encourage farming and lift farmers financially.
Mr Babalola, who is also the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), is reputed to be the largest farmer and highest taxpayer in Ekiti State.
The gifting of money to farmers took place on Sunday at the grand finale of this year’s edition of the Annual Afe Babalola Agricultural Expo and The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Youth Empowerment, held at the university’s sports pavilion.
According to a statement, Mr Aribasoye Emmanuel, from Ado Local Government Area, got the star prize of N2 million as the overall best farmer in the state for the year.
The five best farmers in each of the 16 Local Government Areas in the state got N250,000, N150,000, N100,000, N75,000 and N50,000 respectively.
Mr Babalola said distributing money to hardworking farmers on annual basis was a fulfilment of his dream.
“This is in the realisation of my dream. It all started like a dream which translated into reality in 2015.
“The dream was my burning desire to make people realise that farming is a divine vocation.
“It is also part of my individual contributions to ongoing efforts at revitalising farming as well as reducing unemployment in the country.
“Another reason why I started this Expo was that I found it utmost painful that many Nigerians have abandoned farming for white-collar or menial jobs and also for no jobs.
“There was a time in this country when whatever one’s profession was, such a person would still have a small garden at the back of his house, if only for vegetables, tomatoes, pepper and garden eggs, among others,” he said.
He also used the opportunity to appeal to the federal government to establish a special Agriculture Bank, which will be completely different from those before it
He said the establishment of the structure would help farmers obtain loans at low-interest rates with their cooperative societies serving as guarantors.
He, however, expressed regret that farming in Nigeria has suddenly become abandoned and unattractive.
“Farming has been abandoned in Nigeria today and Nigeria is the worse for it.
“For instance, there was a time when Ekiti State alone was producing 52 per cent of the Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) of the defunct Western Region.
“Today, Ekiti State is the poorest state in Nigeria. In fact, there was no beggar in Ekiti State at that time as everyone was gainfully employed, but today beggars are found everywhere.
“Regretfully, Ekiti State has become the poverty capital of Nigeria,” Mr Babalola bemoaned.
“Also, no thanks to the spate of insecurity ranging from kidnapping, robbery and invasion by herdsmen ravaging the country, life is no longer safe at home, on the farm, on the road or even in classrooms.
“The combination of these ills has led many farms to be destroyed with many farmers having to abandon their farms.
“Despite all these, Ekiti State farmers have been able to forge ahead. I believe in farming because I grew up on the farm and I am still a farmer as many of you know,” he said.
He added that he included the study of agriculture in the curriculum of his university, with a 50 per cent slash in tuition fee for the course.
“In my university, we provide seed money for graduates of agriculture to start their own businesses.
“That was why in addition to all of these, in 2015, I thought of how to improve the lot of our farmers.
“That is why I started this programme. I started with a prize of N5 million, but it has risen over the years, thus this year, we are giving out N13.2 million,” he said.
The Local Organising Committee Chairman and UNESCO Chair in Entrepreneurship Education for Sustainable Development, Mr Abiodun Ojo, also made a donation of 48 spraying machines to select farmers.
He said that partnering with ABUAD was to commend the good work which Aare Afe Babalola was doing to return agriculture to its old days of glory.
Mr Olugbenga Odesanmi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Ekiti State commended Babalola’s efforts and promised the government’s enabling environment at all times.
On her part, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of ABUAD, Professor Smaranda Olarinde, appreciated the founder’s gesture to farmers.
She said that the best way the beneficiaries could show gratitude to him was to invest wisely, the monies received so they would be able to fend for themselves and also provide employment for others.
NGX Group Targets Private Equity Investments, Mergers, Acquisitions
By Dipo Olowookere
In order to make shareholders enjoy the benefits of demutualisation and maximize returns, the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc is currently undertaking some financial planning activities.
These steps are being engineered by the Group CEO of the organisation, Mr Oscar Onyema, and they include the possibility of mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments, treasury management, capital allocation and fundraising.
According to Mr Onyema, the company is well-positioned to achieve these goals, going by its financial performance in 2020, expressing optimism that these strategies would make the organisation’s shares attract investors when they are eventually listed on the NGX Limited.
“As the group progresses its plans to list on Nigerian Exchange Limited, there are exciting days ahead. The financial performance of the Group in 2020 showed strong resilience and prospects for growth.
“The group ended 2020 in a sound financial position with net asset growth of over 10 per cent to N31.28 billion and income and resulting surplus after tax valued at N6.02 billion and N1.84 billion respectively.
“In the context of COVID-19 pandemic, we maintained tight cost controls, which reduced expenses by 13 per cent despite investments in technology that allowed remote operations with zero downtime,” he had said.
On Thursday, September 9, 2021, the NGX Group held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Abuja. It was the first yearly shareholders’ gathering after the demutualisation of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
At the meeting, shareholders approved all the resolutions proposed by the board, including the re-election of the non-executive directors who were retiring by rotation; the election of the members of the audit committee; the proposed remuneration for the board and non-executive members of the erstwhile national council of the NSE; and the introduction of equity-based incentives to employees’ remuneration, including an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) and a Performance-Based Long-Term Incentive Plan.
NGX Group, leading by example as a new corporate entity, is committed to the highest governance standards, recognising its role in critical capital markets infrastructure.
Much like leading exchanges in the world today (London Stock Exchange Group, Intercontinental Exchange, Singapore Exchange, Japan Exchange Group) and other African exchanges such as Johannesburg Stock Exchange and FMDQ, the demutualised NSE gave rise to a group structure with attendant benefits.
Today, NGX Group stands as the non-operating holding company with three (3) subsidiaries – the operating Exchange, Nigerian Exchange Limited led by Mr Temi Popoola, as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO); the independent regulatory company, NGX Regulation Limited led by Ms Tinuade Awe as the CEO; and the real estate company, NGX Real Estate with Mr Gabriel Igbeka serving as Acting CEO. Each of these entities is governed by independent boards, the composition of which was not only strategic but in line with acceptable practices.
At an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the then members of NSE in March 2020, a resolution was passed pertaining to the appointment of the inaugural board of NGX Group, post demutualisation.
The process relating to the selection of council (board) members was duly followed and the identified candidates were taken through a rigorous due diligence exercise before passing through the internal governance process, being submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission for approval and thereafter, presented to previous members at the 2020 EGM.
The members agreed to the importance of maintaining continuity and preserving The Exchange’s collective knowledge and learned experience (institutional memory) as well as retaining stakeholder confidence and maintaining market stability.
It was, therefore, agreed that the composition of the Boards would comprise individuals selected from the erstwhile National Council and external candidates. This understanding was contained in the Scheme of Arrangement dated 20 January 2020 between the NSE and the dealing and ordinary members of the NSE in respect of the demutualisation of the exchange (the Scheme).
The scheme was approved at the Court Ordered meeting held on 3 March 2020. The approved Scheme of Arrangement was sanctioned by the court on May 14, 2020, and filed at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on June 1, 2020, and it became effective on the date it was filed at the CAC.
NGX Group’s board currently has 11 members and out of the 11 directors, five have direct or indirect shareholdings in the company providing strong representation for the company’s shareholders.
In addition, going above the statutorily required minimum that a public company shall have at least three independent directors (S.275 (1) CAMA 2020), NGX Group went with four independent directors.
Transition agreements expected to last for 18 months were also agreed and it was recognized that subsequent composition of the Board following this transition period will evolve in line with existing rules and regulations, market standards, competitive realities and succession planning policies.
The composition of the inaugural board – comprising some members of the erstwhile council and new members – was approved at the EGM, on the condition that their appointment would become effective post demutualisation.
The market continues to repose confidence in NGX Group evidenced by the statement from the Chairman, Association of Securities Dealing Houses of Nigeria, representing the largest shareholder group in the company, Mr Onyewenchukwu Ezeagu, who stated prior to the recent 60th AGM, “As major shareholders, we were involved in all the processes of demutualisation.
“We are comfortable with the agenda of the meeting as we have been part of the whole process. The proposed resolutions had been made public in the course of the demutualisation. The meeting will bring about a renewed relationship between the NGX Group and its stakeholders.”
Buhari Orders Kyari to Incorporate NNPC, Ararume to Chair Board
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, a statement from the presidency on Sunday confirm.
The Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, was asked to see to the success of this directive, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, disclosed in the statement issued today.
The President’s spokesman said this order was given by Mr Buhari in his capacity as the Minister of Petroleum Resources “in consonance with Section 53(1) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, which requires the Minister of Petroleum Resources to cause for the incorporation of the NNPC Limited within six months of commencement of the Act in consultation with the Minister of Finance on the nominal shares of the company.”
The NNPC chief was, therefore, given the mandate to “take necessary steps to ensure that the incorporation of the NNPC Limited is consistent with the provisions of the PIA 2021.”
A few weeks ago, the President signed the PIA, giving room for the state-owned oil agency to become a commercial organisation under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020.
Before now, the NNPC was operating as a government agency and was solely responsible for the importation of petrol into the country.
But as a part of efforts to make the oil industry more attractive to investors, the government made the sector more transparent by signing the PIA into law.
In the statement issued today, Mr Adesina said President Buhari, by the power also vested in him under Section 59(2) of the PIA 2021, has approved the appointment of the board and management of the NNPC Limited, with effect from the date of incorporation of the company.
It was disclosed that Mr Ifeanyi Ararume was selected as the chairman of the board, while Mr Kyari and Umar Ajiya are to serve as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, respectively.
“Other board members are Dr Tajudeen Umar (North East), Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North Central), Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North West), Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South South), and Chief Pius Akinyelure (South West),” the statement said.
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