By Adedapo Adesanya
The Lagos State Government has lauded Ecobank Nigeria for its active role to uplift the artisanal fisheries value chain in the state.
This was made known by Ms Abisola Olusanya, the Commissioner for Agriculture in her remark at the presentation of 34 fibreglass boats with outboard engines and other ancillary fishing equipment to cooperative societies of 680 youth fishermen.
She said the partnership with Ecobank has been phenomenal in helping to develop business models suitable for the fishermen, stating that the ministry was partnering with Ecobank and Old Mutual Assurance to provide banking services, track cash flow in the business and aid fleet expansion for the fishermen.
Ms Olusanya disclosed that the empowerment was under the 2021 Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme, inaugurated by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in July as part of the government’s commitment to supporting the fishery value chain.
She said that it was envisaged that the deployment of the fishing assets would create over 2,000 jobs in the upstream and downstream sub-sectors of the artisanal fisheries value chain, as well as produce 4,531 metric tonnes of fish annually, adding that each cooperative group comprising 20 members each would receive a boat.
The Commissioner further explained that the partnership with Ecobank was aimed at monitoring the activities of each cooperative group to ensure that they make judicious use of the equipment.
She said, “Today, we are distributing the fibreglass boat to 34 cooperative groups free of charge, under the 2021 Agricultural Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme.
“We need to monitor your activities to ensure that you utilise the equipment very well and also expand and increase the number of your fleet with the support of the financial institution. The banks are here to plan your business and increase opportunities for the generations to come.
“We want you all to grow your business and become multinational companies. We don’t want people to come from Japan, the Netherlands and other foreign countries to talk about fish more than our people from the local fishing communities,” she said.
On his part, the Head of Agriculture Desk at Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs Moji Oguntoyinbo, said that the bank was delighted to partner with the state government on the fisheries value chain.
Mrs Oguntoyinbo said that it was an intentional action for the bank to partner with Lagos state due to its coastal region with a lot of opportunities in fisheries.
“We have seen Lagos state as a coastal region with a lot of opportunities in fisheries and we are delighted that the government has picked us as a focus in food sustainability to start development in this sector.
“Today, we are very delighted to be a partner on this laudable project. This is an intentional investment and incentive to fishermen in Lagos, to promote this sector to the extent of making it possible for fish production and exportation, in the very near future, from the state.
“This is very laudable for us and we are delighted that this will be a role model plan and action that we will also try to replicate in other coastal regions of Nigeria.
“Lagos is always taking the lead and we are delighted to partner with you on this project,” she said.
She then urged the beneficiaries to be consistently focused to ensure that the project would continue to revolve and would be extended to many more beneficiaries in the nearest future.
Also, Mr Adekunle Fasasi, President, Lagos State Fishermen Cooperative Society, commended the government for its continuous support and empowerment to the value chain.
He noted that in the whole of Nigeria, Lagos state was first in terms of fish production and promised to increase its number with the new empowerment.
“Lagos is a coastal region; we have oceans and seas and it is important that we take advantage of this for economic benefits.
“I am particularly happy that this initiative is focused on the youths because these are the people that will take over from us aged fishermen.
“I, hereby, implore the farmers to use the property as if they paid for it and prayed that God would continue to give them wisdom and strength needed to be better fishermen. Do not take it with levity because it is a gift,” he advised.
FBN Holdings to Take Over Access Bank’s Pension Fund Custodian Business
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A Nigerian financial group, FBN Holdings Plc, has taken another step to enhance its earnings by acquiring the pension fund custodian business of Access Bank Plc.
FBN Holdings is making this acquisition possible through one of its subsidiaries, First Pension Custodian, and it involves the total control of Access Pension Fund Custodian Limited.
A notice from both organisations disclosed that the transaction involves the transfer of a 100 per cent stake of Access Bank in the pension fund business to FBN Pension.
At the moment, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Pension Commission (PenCom), the two key regulators of the two transacting companies, have given a “no objection” to the deal.
However, the sale is yet to be finalised as approvals of other regulatory agencies are being awaited.
“FBN Holdings Plc wishes to notify the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited and the investing public that First Pension Custodian, a subsidiary of FBNH’s flagship subsidiary, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has entered into a definitive agreement with Access Bank Plc for the planned acquisition by First Pension of 100 per cent share capital of Access Pension Fund Custodian Limited held by Access Bank Plc.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Pension Commission (PenCom) have given their ‘no objection’ to the transaction, with completion subject to the receipt of all required regulatory approvals,” a disclosure from FBN Holdings signed by Adewale Arogundade, the acting company secretary, said.
On its part, Access Holdings Plc said it “announces today that its subsidiary, Access Bank Plc, has entered into a definitive agreement with First Pension Custodian Nigeria Limited regarding a proposed purchase by First Pension of the entire share capital of Access Pension Fund Custodian Limited held by Access Bank.
“The National Pension Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria have given their ‘no objection’ to the transaction,” Mr Sunday Ekwochi, the company secretary, disclosed.
CBN Laments Failure of Oyo Farmers to Repay Agric Loans
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has lamented that the majority of farmers who benefited from the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) in Oyo State have not repaid their loans.
This call was made by Mr Sadeeq Ajayi, a CBN Development Finance Office in Ibadan at the Agribusiness Innovation Clinic.
He appealed to farmers who defaulted in paying back the agric loans to pay back, saying that the inability of the apex bank to recover the loans from the defaulting farmers had threatened the scheme, adding that it has prevented other farmers from accessing the facility.
The CBN official made the call at a clinic entitled Fostering Innovation and Collaboration Across the Agricultural Value Chain organised by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
ABP is an agricultural loan scheme launched in 2015 by the federal government, through CBN, to provide loans (in kind and cash) to smallholder farmers to boost agricultural production, create jobs, reduce food import bills toward conservation of the foreign reserves.
“While the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has recorded some level of success, the failure of farmers to repay the loans has, however, been a major setback.
“Many of the farmers refused to pay back their loans due to the misconception that since CBN is the lender, the loan is a ‘national cake’ and they do not have to pay back what they consider theirs as citizens.
“This attitude has made it difficult for other farmers, who also want to access the loan, to benefit from the scheme,” he said.
Mr Ajayi said that stakeholders, including the traditional rulers, should appeal to the defaulting farmers to promptly repay the loans for the sake of others.
“Of course, we are engaging various stakeholders and we expect the narrative to change very soon so that more people can have access to the fund,” he said.
In his keynote address, Mr Olasukanmi Olaleye, the Oyo State Commissioner for Trade, Industry, Investment and Cooperatives, lauded the initiative of GAIN to tackle malnutrition in the country.
Mr Olaleye, represented by Mr Mukaila Oladipo, a Deputy Director in the ministry, said that food fortification is one of the safest, most effective and affordable ways of addressing the micronutrient gaps in the country.
Also, Mr Godwin Ehiabhi, a Senior Project Manager, GAIN Nigeria, said that improved access to safe and nutritious food would reduce the country’s high rate of malnutrition.
Seplat Will Continue to Expand Under Guidance of Omiyi, Okeahalam—CEO
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The chief executive officer of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr Roger Brown, has expressed his desire to work with the company’s new Independent Non-Executive Chairman, Mr Basil Omiyi, and the new Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, Mr Charles Okeahalam.
The appointment of Mr Omiyi followed the stepping down of the founders of Seplat Energy Mr ABC Orjiako and Mr Austin Avuru, from the board.
While commenting on the development, Mr Brown said he was excited with the appointments, especially with the transition into the next chapter of the firm.
“Mr Basil Omiyi has been a leading figure in the Nigerian oil and gas sector and also with Seplat Energy, having joined its Board in 2013 and helped it to achieve a dual listing in April 2014. The vast depth of experience and his detailed knowledge of Seplat Energy will be invaluable as we continue to evolve and mature the company.
“He has provided invaluable guidance as an Independent Director and I look forward to his continued leadership as our new Independent Non-Executive Chairman.
“We will also benefit from the considerable expertise of Dr Charles Okeahalam as Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, especially his experience and knowledge of Africa’s economies and its financial markets.
“Under their guidance, we will continue to expand and consolidate our position as Nigeria’s leading energy company and the partner of choice to deliver energy transition for Africa’s largest economy and its rapidly growing population,” he said.
Mr Omiyi has been a member of Seplat Energy’s Board of Directors since March 2013 and as Senior Independent Non-Executive Director from February 1, 2021. During this period, he sat on the company’s Remuneration, Nominations & Governance, Energy Transition, and Risk Management & HSSE committees.
His experience in the energy industry is extensive, with more than 40 years at Royal Dutch Shell, during which time he held senior roles in Nigeria and Europe, including becoming Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria in 2004 and in addition, Country Chairman of Shell Companies, Nigeria, until his retirement in 2009.
Mr Omiyi has held several leadership positions in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, including Chairman, Upstream Industry Group (Oil Producers Trade Section, Lagos Chambers of Commerce & Industry) from 2007-2010; Chairman of the Energy Sector of NEPAD Business Group, Nigeria, and Board Member NEPAD Business Group, Nigeria from 2005-2010; Chairman, of the Oil & Gas Commission of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group from 2005-2010; and Board Member, Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) 2007-2010. Mr Omiyi is also the Independent Non-Executive Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, a subsidiary of Standard Bank Group, a post he has held since 2015.
In 2011, he was awarded the national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger for pioneering leadership in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.
On his part, Mr Okeahalam joined the Board in March 2013 as an Independent Non-Executive Director and is Chairman of Seplat Energy’s Finance Committee, and a member of the Energy Transition, Remuneration, and Nominations & Governance committees.
He has extensive corporate finance and capital markets expertise and in particular, detailed knowledge of African financial markets, economies and the investment industry. He was a co-founder of AGH Capital Group, a private equity and diversified investment holding company based in Johannesburg, with assets in several African countries.
Prior to co-founding AGH Capital Group in 2002, he was a Professor of Financial Economics and Banking at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. His other roles have included advising a number of African central banks and government ministries, the World Bank and the United Nations.
He has held several board positions and is a former non-executive chairman of Heritage Bank Limited, Nigeria. Since March 2016 he has served as the non-executive chairman of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company.
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