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World Bank Says Nigeria Dying Slowly, FG Claims Everything is Okay

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World Bank Thursday said that Nigeria was dying slowly and tragically living on borrowed time due to the perennial neglect of the agricultural sector and relying heavily on crude oil that belongs to yesterday.

 

But Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, assured that the Buhari administration will ensure an export based economy, especially as it recognises the importance of the agriculture sector to food security, job creation and poverty reduction.

 

He said the sector remains one of the priority areas of the government that has attracted various intervention programmes under the Agricultural Promotion Policy.

 

Dr Adetunji Oredipe, senior agriculture economist, World Bank, however, said, economic diversification into agricultural should be in practice not theory as the economy has become increasingly dependent which has proven to be both a “disaster and calamity.”

 

He spoke in Abuja while delivering a keynote address at the agriculture summit Africa sponsored by Sterling Bank Plc,

 

According to him, if Nigeria had held to its market share in palm oil, cocoa, groundnut and cotton, the country would be earning at least $10bn annually from these three commodities.

 

The event was attended by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was represented by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri; Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Paulen Talen; Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; Chairman of Sterling Bank Plc, Asue Ighodalo; and the Managing Director of Sterling Bank Plc, Abubakar Suleiman.

 

Analyzing a gloomy picture of the country’s agricultural sector, the World Bank Agric Economist said that Nigeria is now one of the largest food importers in the world.

 

He said: “In 2016 alone, Nigeria spent $965m on the importation of wheat, $39.7m to import rice and $100.2m on sugar importation.

 

He added that the decision to spend $655m on fish importation seems financially irresponsible given all the marine resources, rivers, lakes, and creeks in Nigeria.

 

He noted: “None of the above transactions (Importation of rice, fish, sugar) is fiscally, economically, or politically sustainable. Nigeria is tragically is living on borrowed time, a typical case of robbing Paul to pay Peter.

 

“For instance, each time we spend money to import rice, Nigerian local rice farmers are negatively affected in terms of morale, sales, and realizable income.

 

He lamented that despite the huge agricultural potential, Nigeria which used to be the major player in agriculture in the world has lost its place in the global community.

 

He said, “In the 1960s we had glory. That glory was visible and significant for the global community to recognize and applaud. Nigeria accounted for 42 per cent of the world’s exports of shelled groundnuts. Our total export volume was 502, 000 MT.

 

“This declined to 356 MT by 2016. Nigeria lost her leadership position and was overtaken by USA, China, and Argentina. Nigeria was also the largest exporter of palm oil in the world and accounted for 27 per cent of the global export volume for palm oil.

 

“Total export volume for palm oil by Nigeria was 167,000 MT in 1961. This declined to 8,000 MT by 2016as the global export volume rose from 629,000 MT in 1961 to over 42.1 million MT in 2016.

 

“Malaysia and Indonesia took over using the oil palm seedlings obtained from Nigeria. In 2018, Malaysia earns $8.7bn, 28.6 per cent of total palm oil exports from export of palm oil alone.

 

“Indonesia alone recorded US$16.5bn, 54.5 per cent of total palm oil exports. Unfortunately, Nigeria is not listed among the first 15 as at this moment.”

 

He said the huge taste of Nigerians for imported food items had also contributed to high levels of unemployment for youths.

 

“Food producing factories in Western world, Far East Asia and other countries employ millions of young people to produce and export food. This is a source of livelihood and it helps the workers to live well and go to school.

 

“But on our side of the world, Nigerian youths have no one to hire them to their capacity. This is a typical case of disguised employment or unemployment. It is unacceptable for our graduate to have no one who needs their university/polytechnic acquired- knowledge and skills.

 

“We must use the power of our population to our advantage by buying local foods,’ he added.

 

To reverse this trend, Oredipe said the government must articulate a clear vision to achieve a hunger-free Nigeria, through an agricultural sector that drives income growth, accelerates achievement of food and nutritional security, generates employment and transforms Nigeria into a leading player in global food markets.

 

In doing this, he said the vision of the government should be to revive the rural economy by transforming Nigeria into an agriculturally industrialized economy, create wealth, jobs, and markets for farmers.

 

He said, “We must adopt an ambitious agricultural promotion strategy, one that is focused on a combination of transformational policy reforms and private capital investments with a promise to expand the benefits to millions of Nigerians.

 

“The government needs revamp their current outlook about how agriculture works by inviting the private sector capacities in order to improve efficiency.

 

“We need to focus on agricultural value chains and not just on increasing production.

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Speaker Asks CBN to Suspend Charges on Deposits, Withdrawals

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been informed to suspend the newly introduced charges on cash deposits and withdrawals of funds by individuals and corporate organisations in the country.

 

The implementation of the cashless policy took effect on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 in some states in the country, including Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Abia, Abuja amongst others.

 

According to a circular issued by the apex bank on Tuesday, individual customers intending to deposit cash in banks would pay 2 percent for logdments above N500,000 and three percent for withdrawals more than the same amount.

 

For corporate customers making cash deposits, they are required to pay a three percent processing fee for money above N3 million and five percent for withdrawals above the same amount.

 

Reacting to the issue on Thursday, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives,  through his official Facebook page, disclosed that the apex bank has been asked to put a hold on the policy for now.

 

“The House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to suspend its recent directive to banks on cashless policy, which seeks to have individuals and corporate organisations charged for deposits and withdrawals respectively,” his post stated.

 

This is not the first time the central bank would be coming with such policy and charges and like in the past, it has been met with harsh criticisms.

 

The latest directive of the CBN to banks to begin implementation of this policy came days after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the raising of Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5 percent to 7.5 percent beginning from 2020 and subject to the approval of the National Assembly.

 

The present government of President Muhammadu Buhari has complained of low revenue, stressing on the need to jerk up its earnings so as to meet the needs of the citizens, who want to begin to feel the dividends of democracy.

 

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UBA is Now Available on Apple Business Chat

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l-r: Group Managing Director/CEO, United Bank for Africa(UBA) Plc, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka; Group Head, Marketing, UBA Plc, Mrs Dupe Olusola; Group Head, Online Banking, UBA, Mr Austine Abolusoro, during the launch of LEO, the Bank’s chatbot on banking, on Apple Business Chat –IPad and IPhone, held at UBA House, Marina, Lagos

United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has, announced that the services of its Chatbot, Leo is now available for customers on Apple Business Chat, where its users can communicate directly with businesses using the Messages app on iPhone and iPad.

 

“As a brand focused on providing excellent customer experience, we are always looking for new ways to serve our customers easily and on time; we are therefore thrilled to support Apple Business Chat, which gives us a powerful and engaging connection with our customers,” said Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, group managing director of UBA, who spoke at the launch of the service in the bank’s Head office on Thursday.

 

“Most of our customers prefer iOS, and we always want to exceed their expectations when they experience UBA. Apple Business Chat makes communicating with us as easy as messaging a friend, so we expect it will quickly become our customers’ preferred customer service channel.”

 

He explained that UBA customers can now use the services of LEO, through the Apple Business Chat to open an account, buy airtime, check account balance, make account transfers and pay bills. With Business Chat, customers can always reach a live person and are always in control of whether they share any contact information with a business.

 

Uzoka said, “Today, we are covering a segment that has been missing for some time. It is our desire to ensure that we put Leo everywhere, and today it is now on the IOS platform as the users approached us that they needed to enjoy the service which Facebook and WhatsApp users had been enjoying from LEO. Consistently, we have been the first in the use of intelligence banking, this is the first time this is happening in Africa. LEO is live in English on the IOS platform, and by the end of October, it will be live in other languages. As you know, LEO is already on WhatsApp and Facebook  in English, French, Portuguese and Swahili languages.”

 

To start Apple Business Chat, customers can click the ‘Chat with Messages’ button on UBA’s website or in mobile banking app, available in the App Store. A conversation with UBA’s agents will open instantly in the Messages app, and users can take their time responding when it’s convenient.

 

Austin Abolusoro, group head, Online, Banking,  who spoke at the event said the bank is always looking for ways to improve upon its services to its teeming customers.

 

“We are leading financial industry AI in Africa. Our customers have been increasingly asking for mobile services that make their lives easier, and Leo has become a growing choice for his convenience and personal solutions, Over a million customers are already on the LEO platform. Before now, customers can only come to the bank, but today we are on social media as well as on the IOS platform, and the launch of LEO has helped customer to get their complaints resolved without physically visiting the bank. Leo makes use of available data to resolve complaints and where more information is needed, Leo will transfer the customer to human agents.”

 

“As we continue to advance our work on AI-driven developments, it is important that we listen to our users today and further enhance Leo to align to client feedback in order to better meet and anticipate needs and even continue to give them increased value,” Abolusoro added.

 

He added that Apple Business Chat is available in beta for users and businesses around the world, and is built into iOS 11.3 and higher. For more information, visit: apple.com/ios/business-chat.

 

United Bank for Africa, Africa’s global bank, was founded 70 years ago in Nigeria and today, operates in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the USA and with presence in France. UBA serves over 17 million customers across the globe with more than 1000 branches and touch points. In 2018, the bank received the award of Africa’s Best Digital Bank by the Banker’s magazine.

 

 

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CBN Issues AIP To 3 Payment Service Banks

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued Approvals-in-Principle (AIP) to three Payment Service Banks (PSBs).

The three institutions issued approvals in principle to operate as Payment Service Banks are Hope PSB, Money Master PSB and 9PSB.

The apex bank explained that the action was in line with its objective of enhancing financial inclusion and the development of the payment system by increasing access to deposit products and payments services through a secured technology-driven environment.

According to the Director, Corporate Communications Department of the CBN, Isaac Okorafor, the approval in principle was part of the processes the institutions had to fulfil in order to be granted license to operate as fully-fledged Payment Service banks.

Okorafor, further explained that the decision of the CBN to issue the AIP to the applicants followed the institutions’ satisfaction of documentation and other laid down conditions.

Sequel to the issuance of the AIP to the three banks, he said they are expected to submit their respective applications for the grant of a final licence, not later than six months after the AIP.

Speaking further, he disclosed that the CBN code of corporate governance for banks would also be applicable to the PSBs.

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