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“Nigerian government is hurting the private sector” – Access Bank boss



Chief Executive of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe

The Chief Executive of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe has decried the effect of government’s issuance of treasury certificates on private lending, describing it as a technical “crowding of private sector from lending,” which he claimed is, “hurting the private sector.”

“The government is also issuing treasury certificates and therefore making people, even at the retail level, want to invest in those treasury certificates. And by wanting to invest in those treasury certificates, technically you are crowding out the private sector from lending” he said in an interview granted to The African Report Magazine.

Expressing the complexity of liquidity risk as a serious risk behind lending to the private sector, Mr Wigwe, said “I guess the most significant is the fact that if the government is issuing treasury bills at 18% or 19%, by definition the after-tax yield on all of those things is already in the 20s — about 24% or 23%. Now why do I want to start exposing myself to companies and take the risk and take the liquidity risk as well when the after-tax yield is returning at the same level? That is really the issue.

The Bank Chief painted the picture of the possibility of having a risky exposure that may lead to the Probability of loss arising from a situation where, there will not be enough cash and/or cash equivalents to meet the needs of depositors and borrowers, while you are trying to meet lending demands.

Monetary Policy

As Nigeria makes further exit progress from economic recession, the Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, Mr Wigwe also advised that there is a need for some changes in monetary policy, believing that “2018 will be a bit more stable, and definitely we should be coming out of the recession and have the best asset-quality ratios in the industry. Definitely! But I think quite frankly we will remain within the guidance levels we’ve been given.”

“The critical thing is confidence, and we are getting more and more confident that the central bank will be able to deliver. But if you ask me, once we can converge the rates, whether it is downwards or whatever, we will be fine and I don’t think it will be far away from where we are right now. Confidence is being restored. Yes, government needs to do a couple of things on the fiscal side, but it will take a bit more time.”Mr Wigwe said.


Sunti Sugar Coy Suspends Production



Ariel view of the N50 billion Sunti sugar project

Sunti Golden Sugar Estate (SGSE) Limited began with a lofty vision to be the purest representation of Nigeria’s Federal Government’s Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) with an ambitious background integration programme intended to set the Country on the path of self-sufficiency in sugar production.

However, it cannot celebrate its first 100 days of production as it has suspended production.

SGSE, a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC (FMN Group) was conceived to be the conglomerate’s biggest agricultural investment in Nigeria to date. Commissioned on March 15 this year, several challenges have forced it to close shop temporarily.

SATELLITE TIMES correspondent, Emmanuel Hezekiah, reports that the sugar company is bedeviled by challenges, some intractable including  lack of sufficient sugarcane from the farms.

There is the dearth of proper drainage system causing deep gully erosion which have uprooted sugarcane plants in the farms.

Besides, the community of Mokwa where the sugar company is sited is unhappy with the manner of the acquisition of their farmland by the Sunti Sugar Company.

They claim that their farmlands were forcibly taken away from them and has refused to allow the sugar company to cultivate on it.

Our correspondent further gathered that the issue of disagreement over the farmland led to bloody communal clashes in Kusogi leading to the death of two men.

A casual worker with the sugar company who did not want his name mentioned said, “We are not well paid and when they pay, the wages do not come as at when due. The company said that we are not permanent staff, that we are casual workers under contract.”

The workers also complained of transportation problems and lack of accommodation close to the site of the sugar company.

Another worker that spoke to SATELLITE TIMES, also pleading anonymity said, “We find it difficult to come to work. The roads are very bad, potholes here and there and the whole surface soil eroded by flood, all this leading to accidents on daily basis. Again, there is no place for us to sleep near our working place making us to come to work through the bad road everyday. We are not comfortable doing the job. Some of us have even stopped coming.”

When contacted for comments, the contractor handling the affairs of the company, whose name was not given was said not to be disposed  to speak to any reporter.

However, one of the line supervisors who also would not give his name told our reporter that the overall head, a white man contracted the running of the company to a Nigerian who failed to take the affairs of the company seriously.

“The contractor in charge was instructed to pay workers N2500 per day, instead he paid them N950 to N1,900 depending on his rating of individual workers. The workers were not happy and had to down tools. That is the major problem. Besides, when the erosion menace was brought to his attention, he did not take it serious until the matter became unmanageable,” the supervisor said.

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Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC Commissions N50 billion Sunti Golden Sugar Estate in Niger State



Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC logo

Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, (FMN Group) market leader in food and agro-allied products in Nigeria, today announced that its biggest agricultural investment in Nigeria to date – The Sunti Golden Sugar Estate will be commissioned on the 15th of March 2018 by Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Located on the banks of River Niger, in Mokwa, Niger state, the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate is owned by Sunti Golden Sugar Estates (SGSE) Ltd. a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc.

The sugar estate features 17, 000 hectares of irrigable farmland and a Sugar mill that process 4,500 metric tons of sugarcane per day. At full capacity, the estate is expected to produce 1 Million tons of Sugarcane which roughly translates into 100,000 metric tons of sugar yearly.

Enclosed within a 35-kilometer dyke, the production facility area is 15,100 hectares, with a cane area that features a maximum output of 10, 000 hectares. The dyke provides flood protection from the River Niger. Over N1 billion was invested in the state-of-the-art irrigation system that will ensure the efficient cultivation of sugar cane, with infrastructure that includes drain pumps, pump stations, and a power grid.

The estate is the purest representation of the Federal Government’s Nigerian Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) with an ambitious backward integration program that intends to set Nigeria on the path to self-sufficient sugar production. The farm at peak production will provide direct employment for about 10,000 people yearly, and impact up to 50,000 people indirectly, including 3,000 small-scale out growers who will be cultivating sugarcane to feed the mill.

The estate has brought infrastructure benefits to the surrounding community, with 28 communities in total taking advantage of a new 30-kilometer road, plus expansive road networks that provide a variety of access routes to the homes of the indigenes. Drains, culverts, and flood-protection walls have also been constructed.

The project illustrates the desire to reduce sugar importation, save billions in foreign exchange, boost local capacity, and reduce unemployment by putting thousands of Nigerians to work.

The FMN Group’s mantra, “Feeding the Nation, Everyday,” is at the heart of the company’s strategic decisions on what they produce, how and where factories are set up, the level of care that is put into products, and how they interact with host communities and the wider environment.

The commissioning of the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate on March 15th will be the first step towards a collective dream of agricultural progress for all in Nigeria.

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N2.4 billion case against Innoson, Court adjourns case till May 22



Innocent Chukwuma

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday adjourned until May 22, the alleged falsification of shipping document to clear goods valued at N2.4 billion against Innoson Nig. Ltd.

The Federal Government through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) had filed a four-count charge of forgery against the defendant and four others.

The defendants were Innoson Nig. Ltd, Innocent Chukwuma, Charles Chukwu, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines ‘C’ and Sunny Anajekwu.

They allegedly conspired and committed the offence on Oct. 10, 2013 at Apapa Wharf.

When the case was called up, one of the accused, Maximian Chukwura was present in court.

The court then informed parties of a letter from counsel representing the third to sixth accused, Mr Macharty Ubadugha, requesting for an adjournment on the grounds that he was before an Appellate Court.

The prosecutor, Mr Julius Ajakaye, in response informed the court that he was only served with a notice of pendency of an application for stay of proceedings in the suit.

He told the court that he had not been served with the notice of appeal or any motion for stay of proceedings.

In his immediate reaction, Counsel to Innoson, Mr George Uwechue (SAN), told the court that he would ensure the service of the notice of appeal as well as the motion on the prosecution.

Justice Ayokunle Faji consequently, adjourned the case until May 22, for determination of the pending motion on notice.

In the charge, the prosecution had alleged that the defendant falsified shipping documents, which they deposited with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. as collateral for the sum of N2.4 billion.

The loan facility was alleged to have been granted Innoson Nig. Ltd.

The shipping document was also alleged to have been falsely presented as genuine and with intent to defraud, in order to clear goods worth N2.4 billion.

According to the charge, the offence contravened the provisions of sections 1(2) (c), and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation 2004. (NAN)

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