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FG November Bonds Oversubscribed by N117.15bn – DMO

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The Federal Government’s bonds for November worth N150bn, which were auctioned on November 17, were oversubscribed by N117.15bn, the Debt Management Office has said.

The DMO said the total subscription received from investors was N267.15bn, with only one of the bonds undersubscribed.

It said subscription of N50.75bn was received for the 12.50 per cent FGN January 2026 bonds; N46.69bn for the 16.2499 per cent FGN April 2037 bonds, which was undersubscribed; and N169.71bn for the 12.98 per cent FGN March 2050 bonds, which recorded the highest subscription.

The debt office said a total of N225.25bn was allotted, comprising N37.15bn, N32.19bn, and N155.91bn.

It said, “Successful bids for the 12.50 per cent FGN January 2026, 16.2499 per cent FGN April 2037 and 12.9800 per cent FGN March 2050 were allotted at the marginal rates of 11.6500 per cent, 12.9500 per cent and 13.3000 per cent, respectively.

“However, the original coupon rates of 12.5000 per cent for the 12.5000 per cent FGN January 2026, 16.2499 per cent for the 16.2499 per cent FGN April 2037 and 12.9800 per cent for the 12.9800 per cent FGN March 2050 will be maintained.”


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$3.48Bn Loan: Nigeria Risks Losing Assets to China – Experts

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Economic and financial experts have warned the Federal Government that Nigeria risks losing key national assets to China in the event that it defaults in paying back loans obtained from China which is currently put at $3.48bn.

$3.48Bn Loan: Nigeria Risks Losing Assets to China – Experts

According to a report by Punch, the experts spoke against the backdrop of the possible takeover of Uganda’s only international airport and other key assets over the East African country’s inability to repay a $207m loan obtained on November 17, 2015 from the Export-Import Bank of China.

The loan has a maturity period of 20 years including a seven-year grace period.

According to the deal signed with the Chinese lenders, Uganda will have to surrender its only international airport.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority said some provisions of the financing agreement with China exposed the Entebbe International Airport and other Ugandan assets which might be taken over by Chinese lenders upon arbitration in Beijing.

China has reportedly rejected recent pleas by Uganda to renegotiate the toxic clauses of the 2015 loan.

This came as  Rotimi Amaechi, minister of Transportation, in August 2020 hinted about the possibility of Nigeria forfeiting its assets to China in the event of loan default.

Amaechi reportedly said Nigeria had waived immunity on a loan, which means China could take the country to arbitration in the event of a default.

The minister, however, added that there would be no need for China to claim any infrastructure once Nigeria repaid its loans to the Asian country.

“We must learn to pay our debts and we are paying, and once you are paying, nobody will come and take any of your assets,” Amaechi said.

However, financial analysts hinted about the possibility of Nigeria forfeiting key national assets to China if the country defaulted on its $3.48bn loans.

They also advised the Federal Government to properly review the loan agreements with China to save the country from facing a situation similar to that of Uganda.

Idakolo Gbolade, chief executive officer of SD&D Capital Management, said Nigeria might forfeit certain assets in the event of a loan default.

Asked if Nigeria faced any risks on its China loans, Gbolade said, “Yes, it is very possible. If you remember about a year ago, there was serious concern in the National Assembly on the loans given by the Chinese Exim Bank to us, and I am sure the loan clause also includes forfeiture of national assets.”

The expert, however, expressed confidence that Nigeria was capable of paying back its debt.

Akpan Ekpo,  economist and professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Uyo, said the development in Uganda was worrisome and exemplified some of the dangers of borrowing from external sources.

He, therefore, advised the government to ensure that loan agreements with China were properly appraised.

Ekpo said, “It is an issue of concern; that is why in any loan agreement with China, we have to read in between the lines. We have to make sure we really understand their agreements.

“We should make sure that Nigerians are involved in the loan negotiation process. Experts should be carried along so that they can properly understand both the agreement in English and in Chinese.

“If the loans have clauses that may cost us our assets or even our sovereignty – as the debate was earlier in the year – that would be disastrous.

“So they should take experts with them when they go to negotiate the loans they collect from China, not just people from foreign affairs.”

Sheriffdeen Tella, professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, equally expressed a similar view, stressing that all loan agreements between Nigeria and external sources should be properly studied by experts.

He said, “It could happen to any African country because they are all thinking of borrowing. But I think that since people have kept the conversation alive now, the government will be very careful with loans collected from China.

“There is, however, the need for an assessment of government external debt from different sources now. We have to start looking at it and there is a need to study the documents that contain the agreements of some of these loans to prevent a similar occurrence.

“We need to start asking ‘what are the contents or the conditions of the loans?’ There is also a need for the government to create a means for offsetting such debts.”

Johnson Chukwu, managing director of Cowry Asset Management Limited, said the country should not have a problem paying back the loan if the economy thrived sufficiently.

He said, “An interest of 2.5 per cent is not high. The key challenge is that did we invest the money in productive assets, and are we getting the value for the money? Was the project cost-optimal?

“It is important to note that investment in infrastructure should lead to an expansion in the country’s ability to generate revenue. If the economy thrives, paying back the loan should not be a problem.

“However, if certain reasonable conditions are not met, it may have a catalytic effect on the economy with the country finding it difficult to pay back the loan.”

Although the Federal Government has been mostly secretive about the terms of the agreement of its China loans, the Debt Management Office has made some statements on them in recent times.

In a statement in June, 2020, the DMO said, “The total borrowings from China of $3.121bn as at March 31, 2020, are concessional loans with interest rates of 2.5 per cent per annum, tenor of 20 years and grace period (moratorium) of seven years.”

According to the DMO, the terms are compliant with the provisions of Section 41 (1a) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

In addition, the low interest rate reduces the interest cost to government while the long tenor enables the repayment of the principal sum of the loans over many years.

Eleven projects, ranging from water supply, power generation, railways, airport terminals, communication to agricultural processing are funded by the loans acquired.

Patience Oniha, director-general, DMO, had in February said, “So far, let’s be very clear that there has not been any default, whether of local or international debt.”

The earliest of the funding agreements between Nigeria and China was signed in 2010 with an interest rate of 2.5 per cent yearly, a repayment period of about 20 years and a grace period of seven years.

If Nigeria is unable to pay its first debt by 2038, the country may have to lease out any of the Chinese-funded projects in Nigeria to China.

The first loan project was for the Nigerian national public security communication system project with $399.50m agreed on December 20, 2010 and disbursed.

The second loan was for the Nigerian railway modernisation project (Wu- Kaduna section) with $500m agreed on December 20, 2010 and disbursed.

While the third loan was for the Abuja light rail project with $500m agreed on November 7, 2012 and disbursed, the fourth loan was targeted at Nigerian ICT infrastructure backbone project with $100m agreed on January 5, 2013 and disbursed.

The fifth loan was meant for the Nigerian four airport terminals’ expansion project (Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt) with $500m agreed on July 10, 2013 but $455.28m was disbursed, which is 91.06 per cent of the agreed amount.

The sixth loan was for the Nigerian Zungeru hydroelectric power project with $984.32m agreed on September 28, 2013 but only $518.24m was disbursed, which is 52.65 per cent of the agreed amount.

The seventh loan was for the Nigerian 40 parboiled rice processing plants project (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), with $325.67m agreed on April 26, 2016, but nothing was disbursed.

The eighth loan was for the Nigerian railway modernisation project (Lagos – Ibadan section), with $1.27bn agreed on August 18, 2017 but only $759.84m was disbursed, which is 17.50 per cent of the agreed amount.

The ninth loan was targeted at the rehabilitation and upgrading of Abuja-Keffi-Markurdi road project with $460.82m agreed on August 18, 2017 but only $80.64m was disbursed, which is 59.96 per cent of the amount agreed.

The 10th loan was meant for the Nigeria supply of rolling stocks and depot equipment for the Abuja light rail project with $157m agreed on May 29, 2018, but nothing was disbursed.

Lastly, the 11th loan was for the Nigeria greater Abuja water supply project with $381.09m agreed on May 29, 2018, but nothing was disbursed.

In terms of repayments, Nigeria paid $102.68m to China in the first six month of 2021, while it still owes about $3.48bn

Nigeria also paid a total of $102.68m to the Exim Bank of China in the first half of this year.

Nigeria paid an interest fee of $42.54m, which is 73.76 per cent of the principal fee of $57.67m as debt service to the Exim Bank of China in the first three months of 2021

Alongside commitment charges of $1.98m, Nigeria paid a total of $102.20m.

In the second quarter of 2021, Nigeria paid an interest fee of $306,050, without paying the principal fee, as debt service to the Exim Bank of China in the second three months of 2021

Alongside commitment charges of $170,680, Nigeria paid a total of $476,730 in Q2 2021.

According to Punch reports, Nigeria has spent about $591.11m in five years on servicing the debts owed to the Exim Bank of China.

Nevertheless, Nigeria still owes China $3.48bn as of the end of June 2021.

 

Punch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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How INEC Innovations to Strengthen Electoral Process is Anchored on Technology

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Over the years Nigeria’s electoral system has been faced with credibility issues rising from wide spread rigging and falsification of results, multiple registration of voters, intimidation of voters among other electoral offenses. These vices have persisted in spite of efforts by past chairmen of the umpire body Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to change the narrative.

However, things are beginning to change for the better for the country’s electoral system evident in the just concluded Anambra state governorship election held on November 6, 2021. There were innovations introduced by Inec during that election that help to improve the process and reassured confidence of the people in the process.

These innovations according to Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), at an interactive meeting with online publishers in Lagos are driven by technology.

He said: “Determined to deepen the use of technology and reduce human intervention in the critical stages of the electoral process, the Commission introduced new innovations.

“A few of them are identified as follows:  Submission and Processing of Nominations Forms and Other Applications. The Commission has been discouraging human intervention in the electoral process. Since the 2019 General Election, the following activities are now conducted either partially or entirely online through dedicated portals: Voter pre-registration; Nomination of candidates for election by political parties; Submission of list of polling and collation agents by political parties; Accreditation of national and international observers for election; and Accreditation of media organisations for elections. Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) and Launch of Online

Registration Portal

“You will recall that the Commission often undertakes a fresh registration of eligible voters with every general election until 2010 when the first reliable biometric register of voters was compiled. Thereafter, the practice is to undertake intermittent registration of voters on the eve of major elections.

“However, in April 2017, this Commission for the first time began the implementation of the registration of voters on a continuous basis as provided in the Electoral Act.

“By the time the CVR was suspended in August 2018 to prepare for the 2019 General Election, a total of 14,283,734 new voters had been registered and added to the national register of voters, increasing the overall number to 84, 004 084.

“However, the CVR could not resume as planned after the general election due in part to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the earlier part of 2020.

“In our determination to serve Nigerians better and in response to repeated calls by stakeholders, the Commission introduced a dedicated portal for online registration on 28th June 2021.

“This allows intending registrants to commence the process online by filling the forms, upload their pictures and required documents, and then make an appointment on the web portal for a date and time to visit an INEC State or Local Government Area (LGA) office to give their fingerprints and complete the registration. In addition, those who are already registered as voters can carry out all the other activities such as transfers, correction of personal details and replacement of damaged or defaced

Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) Online

“Nigerians have fully embraced and are taking full advantage of the services available on the portal. The Commission has also been updating Nigerians every week on new development since the CVR started. As of 22nd November 2021, the CVR platform had recorded a total of 4,297,494 fresh registrants while 1,856,771 registrants have validated their application.

“The INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED)  In June this year, INEC introduced a special gadget designed in-house by the Commission’s Engineers but fabricated abroad. It performs a variety of functions including physical registration of voters, fingerprint and facial authentication on election day and uploading of the polling unit result sheets to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal.

“While the device was used as the INEC Voter Enrollment Device (IVED) at the resumption of the Continuous Voter Registration in June this year, it first was deployed for the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the Isoko South 1 State Constituency bye-election in Delta State on 11th September 2021 and later for the recently concluded Anambra Governorship election. In both elections, the equipment performed the functions of the Smart Card Readers (SCR) and the Z-Pad.

INEC Result Viewing Portal

“In our effort to engender transparency in the electoral process, the Commission unveiled the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal to make available for public view copies of the polling unit election result sheet, known as Form EC8A on Election Day. By Clicking on http://inecelectionresults.com and creating an account and password, any interested Nigerian can have access to the portal and view polling unit results are they are uploaded live.

“The Nasarawa Central Constituency bye election held on 8th August was the first to have its polling units’ results uploaded to the portal, followed by the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections.

“However, before the introduction of IReV, the Commission had, during the 2017 Anambra State Governorship election, introduced the pasting of Form EC 60E, also known as the “People’s Result Sheet” at Polling Units, where citizens could view the result of each polling unit.

Inclusivity

“The Commission recognizes that some members of the society need special attention to make it possible for them to participate actively in the electoral process.

“The Commission meets regularly with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) representing Persons Living with Disability with a view to understanding their needs and bringing them up to speed on policies and actions that may affect them. In response to demands, the Commission now deploys assistive facilities such as the Braille Ballot

“Guide and magnifying glasses during elections to enable vision-impaired voters, persons living with Albinism and other individuals who may so require, to take advantage of the resources to vote unaided.

“Indeed, the Commission also cares about internally displaced Nigerians who were forced to flee their homes due to natural disasters, insurgency, activities of bandits and other criminals.

“In September 2018, the Commission developed the INEC Framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities, followed by the Regulations and Framework for Voting by Internally Displaced (IPDs) in December 2018.

“We also have the Gender Policy to take care of the needs of women in the electoral process and also recently created a Department of Gender and Inclusivity for the implementation of the gender policy in a coordinated manner.

Anambra Governorship Election 2021

“The Anambra Governorship election was held on 6th November 2021 under difficult circumstances. The Commission has declared a winner and the certificate of return has been issued. The election was peaceful and the outcome of the election has been universally adjudged to be credible.

“However, the Commission is not unaware of the issues raised about the performance of the new technology deployed for voter accreditation. The deployment of the

“BVAS in the Anambra Governorship election was the second pilot test. It was intended to achieve two objectives. First is voter accreditation to replace the Smart Card Reader. The second is the uploading of polling unit result on the IReV portal to replace the z-pad. The BVAS performed optimally in uploading results on the IReV but there were the usual challenges associated with the pilot of a new technology in a major election.

“From our assessment so far, much of the glitches encountered on Election Day in Anambra State had little to do with the machines but more with the operators of the system.

“The extraordinarily difficult circumstances under which the election was held meant that some of the better trained ad hoc staff withdrew at the 11th hour. Similarly, some critical service providers such vehicle owners also withdrew thereby severely affecting our plans for rapid response by our technicians – the Registration Area Technical (RATECH) staff.”

Technical issues relating to the performance of the BVAS will be addressed in the presentation by our Director ICT at this important meeting. Suffice it to say that in spite of the glitches, BVAS has justified our determination to deepen the deployment of technology in the electoral process.

Given the credible conclusion of the election, it has strengthened our belief that even the minimal introduction of technology in voter accreditation is better than the best manual process. We want to thank the voters in Anambra State for their patience and faith in the new technology. This has also justified the hope of citizens across the country that the deployment of more appropriate technology is essential to electoral integrity in Nigeria.

Our response to the glitches encountered started right from Anambra State. This explains there were no challenges reported during the supplementary election in Ihiala Local Government Area held on Tuesday 9th November 2022.

I want to reassure Nigerians that we have learnt vital lessons from the Anambra pilot. There will be remarkable improvement in the next major election which is the end-of-tenure Area Council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) schedule to hold in three months on 12th February 2022.


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Alerzo Excites Informal Retailers with Up to 20% Discount on its Retail App

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Alerzo Limited, Nigeria’s business to business e-commerce platform, is offering up to 20% discount on its Alerzoshop retail App to retailers selling in the informal markets, as part of its Black Friday campaign which runs from November 26th till December 3rd.

Adewale Opaleye, the chief executive officer of Alerzo Limited, says the discount will help to improve the profit margin of the retailers – majority of whom are women – as they prepare for the festive season.

“As the festive season approaches, we believe the 20% discount will improve the profit margins of our informal retailers’ network as they will make huge savings while buying the same quality products on our platform.

“We’re excited to roll out this campaign to drive excitement among our customers who sell to final consumers in the open, informal markets. This is the first time these retailers in the informal markets will participate in a Black Friday campaign, and we’re indeed excited to be facilitating this new experience for them.,” Opaleye said.

In the last 20 months, Alerzo has built tech-enabled products, such as Alerzoshop, that make the process of sourcing for goods simpler, faster and easier for informal retailers while eliminating the concomitant pressure and unregulated prices they encounter in the open markets.

This is in line with the company’s mission of helping small and medium businesses – who often lack the resources – to grow better and faster with technology.


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