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National Assembly Blackmailing Minister of Finance to Siphon Funds—Report

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National Assembly Blackmailing Minister of Finance to Siphon Funds—Report

By Dipo Olowookere

A report by Premium Times has disclosed that the leadership of the National Assembly is using a ‘secret’ it has about the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, to get her approve funds for the second arm of government.

According to the report, some Senators provided insights into why Mrs Adeosun has remained exceptionally generous in funnelling billions of Naira to parliament, sometimes even against the wishes of her bosses at the presidency.

The newspaper had in a series of reports revealed how the Minister repeatedly enriched lawmakers, including by funding unapproved projects and making unappropriated cash payments to the legislative arm of government.

In April, it reported details of the controversial release of N10 billion to the National Assembly by Mrs Adeosun.

The lawmaking arm then wasted the money on exotic cars and dubious contracts. Some of the companies to which the contracts were awarded were not even registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

In June, Premium Times reported how the Minister spent about N12 billion to finance projects the presidency wanted removed from the 2017 budget.

The Minister’s action generated uproar nationwide, especially among civil society activists who wondered the motive of such curious financial relationship with federal lawmakers reputed for being self-centred, greedy and corrupt.

Two months of asking questions is beginning to provide some insights into the real reason the Minister has maintained such cosy relationship with the lawmakers.

At least five senators who spoke to the newspaper said the abnormal actions of the Minister were activated by the top echelon of the legislature.

“We have never had a Finance Minister so generous to the National Assembly,” one senator said. “But it is not for nothing. The truth is we were able to dig up something unsavoury about her and our leaders are holding her by the jugular

One ranking Senator simply said, “The Minister is being gagged by our people”.

He however said he was not sure what his colleagues were using to “gag” the Minister.

Yet another Senator said, “What I am aware of is some of our people said they have an ammunition they can use to silence her. That has given way for the leadership (of the National Assembly) to intimidate her, knowing that they could get her out of her job if she doesn’t cooperate.”

Another ranking Senator, who also asked not to be named, said Mrs Adeosun was indeed being blackmailed by lawmakers.

“Not everything is out in the public because every single one of us are beneficiaries of this situation,” he said. “But I can tell you the woman is being harassed and blackmailed into doing many things she would ordinarily not so. She is helpless in the hands of our people.”

The Minister is said to be afraid of being exposed or investigated by the legislative body, which may lead to her losing her position.

Premium Times learnt that the real “ammunition” is known only by a few high profile leaders of the National Assembly who have turned it into what an official called “a secret tool for extortion.”

But when contacted, Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, said the Finance Minister was not being blackmailed in any way.

“There is nothing like that and I am very sure of that,” Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, spokesman to Mr Saraki, informed Premium Times. “If there is anything like that, I would know. Oga (boss) will hint or she will tell me. There is absolutely nothing like that. It is not true.”

Mr Olaniyonu described Mrs Adeosun as the “most cooperating minister” who answers lawmakers’ summons at all times. But he insisted that her conduct was not because of fear of any blackmail.

Spokesperson to Mrs Adeosun, Mr Oluyinka Akintunde, also denied his boss was being blackmailed by lawmakers.

“I wish to state that there is no such thing,” Mr Akintunde said. “The Honourable Minister has always operated within the ambit of the law in the discharge of her responsibilities.”

However, the newspaper said it was working hard to uncover what the real “ammunition” being used against the Minister is, promising to provide updates as information becomes available.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Economy

FG Pledges Single-Digit Loans for Small Businesses

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external loan

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has pledged to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with single-digit loans so as to boost their businesses.

This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Maryam Katagum, on Friday when members of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) visited her in Abuja.

According to her, there is a lot of commendation at the recent retreat President Muhammadu Buhari had with the ministers for the MSMEs.

“In his closing speech, Mr President specifically said that every support will be given to ensure that MSMEs have access to credits.

“That is what we always preach and we will give every support to the MSMEs as the engine of economic growth to have access to credits at single digits,” Mrs Katagum said.

The Minister, who pointed out the critical role MSMEs play in growing the economy, said this role was further heightened during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Even the woman selling groundnut or `akara’ couldn’t come out to practice her passion. Everybody felt the effect of the lockdown.

“We have to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for interventions that were provided for MSMEs during the lockdown.

“And once it was identified to put in some mechanism to stop the economy from going under, our ministry is one of the ministries asked to make submissions to see how to keep the economy going and ensure free flow of goods and services across the country.

“Our proposal was very easily accepted and the sum of N75 billion was allocated and we made a lot of progress.

“Average Nigerians appreciated the efforts and we have seen them giving their testimonies and right now we are on the last track which is the guaranteed off-take scheme,” the Minister said.

She appealed to the association to identify innovative ways that the Federal Government can assist MSMEs.

“As partners, your association has to start thinking of new innovative ways that we can assist MSMEs, it’s not just the finance.

“So, when you give them the money, they don’t know what to do with the money so you need to intensify the capacity building and sharing of information to know what is happening and where,” she said.

On his part, the President and Chairman of the governing council of NASME, Mr Abdulrashid Yerima, expressed the association’s commitment to deepening the relationship with the ministry.

Mr Yerima appreciated the ministry for including NASME in various committees set up by the government to support the development of MSMEs in Nigeria.

He, however, sought the appointment of members of the association to the boards of parastatals under the ministry and solicited the ministry’s support for inputs into human capital development for the association.

“Our association serving in the board of revenant agencies under the ministry will help us to make informed inputs into the policies of the agencies that impact MSME growth and development in Nigeria.

“Also support for capital development for our association is crucial for the development of skills and manpower to upscale MSMEs especially NASME,” Mr Yerima said.

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Economy

IGR: Osinbajo Expresses Worry Over Governors’ ‘Laziness’

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yemi osinbajo RCCG Pastor

By Adedapo Adesanya

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo seems to be worried about the inability of state governors to be innovative in boosting their respective Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

The number 2 man, speaking at the maiden edition of Ekiti State’s investment forum in Ado-Ekiti, has, therefore, tasked them to think out of the box and act like a sovereign state so as to make them challenge countries of the world.

“Thinking differently, there is a need for a sub-national to think like a sovereign state. You have a bigger GDP (gross domestic product) and even more revenues than many nations.

“There is a different mindset when you are sure of a monthly allocation of cash at least enough to pay salaries, whether you generate income or not. This is the challenge. The so-called Dutch disease, one becomes complacent,” he said.

“But what if you had to take responsibility for all those who reside within your borders, pay all salaries, from internally generated revenue?” he queried.

Drawing a parallel, he said that Lagos State improved its IGR from N600 million monthly in 1999/2000 to about N45 billion today, adding that the illegal seizure of the allocations to the state by the then federal government was the shock that forced the state to rethink.

Speaking further, Mr Osinbajo noted that although a state within a federation is not a nation, it must behave like one, to further boost its economic development.

“The economy of the sub-national is a peculiar animal. The state within the federation is not a nation, but it must behave like one, it derives some resources from the federal pool, and generates some income, the overall sum will provide infrastructure and services to the community.

“The size of the sum and the quantum of opportunity available to provide livelihoods for the populace will depend on how the state enables local and external investors, small and large to put their resources into business and commercial activity business in the State.

“The funded portion of the state’s budget is after all a mere fraction of the sum total of economic activity or income-generating activity, formal or informal within the state. So, the attractiveness of a state to commerce is a radical issue,” Mr Osinbajo said.

He asserted that “the very lives and livelihoods of the people within the borders of the State, whether the people will live prosperous and happy lives, be educated, have access to affordable medical care, depends on it.”

He then encouraged them to key into the benefit from a private-sector led economy, noting that the model is the right way to go, as the business is the standpoint of the private sector, while governments should as much as possible facilitate, or at best, collaborate.

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Economy

NGX Group Finally Lists 1.964 billion Shares, Trades at N17.75

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NGX Group lists 1.964 billion Shares

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A total of 1,964,115,918 shares, representing the issued share capital of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc, were successfully listed on the trading platform of NGX Limited on Friday, October 15, 2021.

Business Post reports that the stocks were listed on the exchange today by introduction at a unit price of N17.75, higher than the N14.68 per unit it last traded on the NASD Securities Exchange on Friday, October 8, 2021, it the shares used to be traded.

This newspaper gathered that at the exchange today, investors traded about 3.6 million units of the company’s equities worth N63.2 million in 31 deals and closed flat at N17.75.

It was listed on the main board of the NGX having satisfied the listing requirements of the exchange and obtained relevant regulatory approvals.

The company is on the bourse in the financial services and capital market infrastructure sector, with the ticker NGXGROUP.

The top members of staff of the company were honoured today with the closing gong ceremony and the Chairman, Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo, in his speech, stated that, “Today’s listing of NGX Group on NGX is another milestone attained pursuant to the group’s 2018 – 2021 corporate strategy.

“Our shareholder base has more than doubled since our demutualisation in March 2021 and our valued shareholders will benefit from the enhanced liquidity that listing on the exchange will facilitate.

“This listing will also enable a much wider universe of potential investors and market participants to share in our growth journey.

“As a board, we embrace the letter and spirit of the listing requirements and we are committed to transparent disclosure, proactive stakeholder engagement and exemplary corporate governance.”

Also speaking, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NGX Group, Mr Oscar Onyema, disclosed that, “Today’s listing of NGX Group on the nation’s premier exchange will enable institutional investors globally as well as the Nigerian public to invest in Nigerian Exchange Group Plc.

“With strengthening market dynamics, serving the largest economy in Africa, NGX Group’s listing allows us to expand in key capital market infrastructure verticals and look beyond Nigeria’s borders, as we deliver on our growth plans to become Africa’s leading capital market infrastructure group.”

As for the CEO of NGX, Mr Temi Popoola, he described the listing as a milestone, expressing his excitement about the development.

“We congratulate the board and management first on a successful demutualisation and on its subsequent listing. This move is particularly exciting, as it will position NGX Group to provide liquidity to members while stimulating the capital market ecosystem to grow at the same pace as the economy.

“Today, we reiterate our commitment to being a trusted partner to NGX Group and other listed companies as we continue to build a platform that allows our listed companies, investors and other stakeholders to maximise value in our market,” he said.

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