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Economy

SEC Seeks Innovative Financial Products for Pension Industry

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Pension Industry

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Lamido Yuguda, has called for more innovative financial products to meet the needs of the pension industry in Nigeria so as to deepen the capital market and sustain the growth in the sector, especially in the non-interest segment.

Mr Yuguda made this call at a one-day seminar organised by the agency themed The Imperative of Non-Interest Capital Market for Pension Industry.

According to him, the non-interest finance segment holds great potentials in furthering the development of the capital market and the growth of the nation’s economy as it is one of the most appropriate for the funding of long-term infrastructure.

He described the pension industry as one of the fastest-growing in the nation’s economy with assets under management of N13 trillion as at the end of September 2021 adding that of this impressive amount, less than N80 billion is invested in Sukuk, representing a little less than one per cent of total pension assets under management.

“This calls for more innovative financial products to deepen our market and sustain the growth in the industry, especially in the non-interest segment.

“We strongly believe that the capital market has a leading role to play in this regard by providing a variety of long-term investable products to service the needs of the pension industry as well as other investors with a similar focus.

“It is encouraging that the national pension commission has taken concrete steps to improve the regulatory framework for the investment of pension funds in the non-interest capital market by the introduction of an operational framework for the non-interest fund.

“This will no doubt provide an additional opportunity for retirement savings account holders and retirees to invest their savings in financial instruments that are aligned with their lite goals and objectives.

“Indeed, the operationalization of the funds definitely accelerates the national financial inclusion agenda while increasing the quantum of investible funds by unlocking the untapped capital,” he said.

Mr Yuguda stated that as of September 2021, the total assets stood at N7.79 billion constituting about 0.059 per cent of total pension assets under management expressing the hope that the fund assets will grow with robust public awareness, education programs and capacity building of stakeholders through seminars, workshops and programs such as this.

“The SEC in the realisation of the potential of the noninterest segment of the capital market has a veritable avenue for providing long-term capital launched its 10-year capital market masterplan with a very strong focus on the development of the non-interest capital market segment through awareness creation, capacity building, review of regulatory framework and development of non-interest projects and services.

“I am happy to report that a significant number of its strategic initiatives have been achieved as several sharia/ethical funds have been registered by the SEC.

“In addition, the SEC collaborated with the MO towards providing a framework for the issuance of the first FGN Sukuk in 2017 and two other issuances of Sukuk have followed.

“However, we believe that more work still needs to be directed towards achieving other critical initiatives of non-interest in our capital market plan.

‘At SEC, we have been approached by a number of potential corporate issuers of scope and we have registered the first issuer of scope, we are aware that a number of corporate issuers are interested in issuing Sukuk, but some of them have noted that they will like clarity on the neutrality of the Sukuk vis-a-vis corporate bonds.

“The increased supply of scope will hasten the development of the non-interest capital market because I am confident that the non-interest finance experts gathered here today will invoke the interest and attention of participants and enhance their knowledge of the subject to eventually lead to the birth of promoters and on takers of non-interest products of the capital market,” he added.

In a goodwill message, the Director-General of the National Pensions Commission (PenCom) Ms Aisha Dabir Umar, commended the SEC for organising this webinar.

The PenCom chief, represented by the Commissioner Administration, Mr Umar Farouk Aminu, acknowledged the collaborative efforts of the two agencies which have over the years laid acceptable values and good governance standards in their investments of pension funds in the Nigerian capital market.

“As you may be aware, PenCom recently released a list of operational guidelines for non-interest funds. It is our belief that this singular act will promote financial inclusion in Nigeria, and particularly drive enrolment in the macro pension fund. It is my call that industry practitioners gathered here will come up with practical measures to facilitate the issuance of non-interest instruments in the market.”

She stated that PenCom remains resolute in ensuring that all instruments meet this requirement before pension investment and commended the collaboration between PenCom and SEC towards deepening the capital market to sustainably introduce non-interest products.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General of the Islamic Financial Services Board, Dr Bello Danbatta, said Islamic finance is a complementary system adding that no system would be able to develop without integrating it into its financial system.

“Sustainable finance is not complete without integrative finance and integrative finance is only possible when you have non-interest and interest-based finance,” he stated.

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Economy

FBN Holdings to Take Over Access Bank’s Pension Fund Custodian Business

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First Pension Custodian Access Pension Fund Custodian

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 (NAICOM), 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 (Naicom) 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.

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Economy

CBN Laments Failure of Oyo Farmers to Repay Agric Loans

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tomato farmers in Nigeria

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.

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Economy

Seplat Will Continue to Expand Under Guidance of Omiyi, Okeahalam—CEO

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Basil-Omiyi Adoption of Clean Energy

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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