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NEWS HEADLINES In Nigeria This Morning, 12/11/2020.

Stock market index gains 1.90 per cent

Transactions on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) sustained its positive trend yesterday as more highly-capitalised stocks appreciated in prices, boosting the All-Share Index (ASI) by 1.90 per cent.

At the close of trading, investors gained N325 billion as market capitalisation advanced to N17.384 trillion. Also, the ASI increased by 621.26 absolute points, representing a growth of 1.90 per cent to close at 33,268.36 points.

The positive performance came from gains recorded by highly-capitalized stocks, including Nigerian Breweries Plc, Presco Plc, MTN Nigeria Communications plc (MTNN), Guinness Nigeria Plc and NASCON Allied Industries Plc.

 Analysts at Afrinvest Research said: “While there is yet room for profit-taking, we expect the local bourse to close the week on a bullish note.”

Market sentiment, as measured by market breadth, was positive with 51 stocks recording gains compared to seven losers. Fidson Healthcare, Guinness Nigeria, Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals and Sterling Bank recorded the highest price gains of 10 per cent each, to close at N4.95, N20.90, N2.42 and N2.20 respectively.

 On the flip side, Learn Africa Plc led the losers’ chart by 4.76 per cent, to close at N1.00, per share. C&I Leasing Plc followed with a decline of 4.65 per cent to close at N4.10 per share.

 Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc declined by 4.17 per cent to close at N46.00 while Linkage Assurance declined by 4.08 per cent to close at 47 kobo. Red Star Express Plc shed 3.68 per cent to close at N3.40.

The total volume of trades went up by 48.27 per cent to 858.157 million units, valued at N9.063 billion, exchanged in 8,142 deals.   

Transactions in the shares of FBN Holdings (FBNH) topped the activity chart with 145.051 million shares valued at N1.078 billion. Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp) followed with 126.262 million shares worth N141.213 million while Zenith Bank traded 60.813 million shares valued at N1.520 billion.

Transport ministry proposes N205b budget for 2021

The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has proposed the total sum of N205.1 billion as capital budget for the ministry in year 2021.Making his presentation before the Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Land and Marine Transport, Amaechi said that the proposal was represented to enable the ministry make significant progress on all the ongoing projects.

He said that out of the N205 billion, land transport has N204 billion while marine transport has a total of N845 million with overhead cost of N358 million for 2021.

“The total capital appropriation of the ministry for 2020 was N70.3 billion; land has N69.6 billion, marine N697 million. About N36 billion representing 51.49 per cent has been released to date with land having N35.9 billion and marine with N89.7 million has been utilized as at November 2, 2020.

“In addition, the sum of N245,494,182.42 was appropriated for overhead expenditure out of which N176,926,909.26 was released, the sum of N157,956,153.18 of the released amount was expended as at October 28, 2020.

“The ministry is proposing a total capital budget of N205.1 billion with land transport estimates being N204.3 billion, and marine transport estimates put at N845 million with overhead of N358.7 million in the 2021 budget, which is before you for consideration” he stated.

Amaechi said: ”The aims and objectives of the proposal are to make significant progress on all ongoing projects and to complete and deliver modern railway services that would provide an efficient and cost effective alternative transport system for economic growth and creation of job opportunities for the citizenry.”

He however noted that, Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT) Zaria and Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) are fully funded from the national budget while NIWA, Maritime Academy and CRFFN derives their funding from both the national budget as well as the Internally Generated Revenues (IGR).

He added that three of the agencies under the ministry, namely NPA, NIMASA and NSC are fully self-funding and make reasonable remittances to the consolidated revenue fund.

He said that the major role of the ministry in the marine transport sector is to oversee the monitoring of the implementation of government policies for the sub sector, which are largely carried out by the agencies.

Amaechi said that the budget proposal has presented amounts required for completion of some of the projects by year 2021 while others may span up to 2022.

He said that the ministry is focused majorly on completing the ongoing National Freight Offices at Illela, Jibiya and Idiroko in addition to other land transport projects in 2021.

NDDC hands over nine-year contract files to auditors

The Enugu State Government on Wednesday said it had commenced mass vaccination against yellow fever to contain the spread of the disease in some communities.

Some people were reported to have died of the disease, previously tagged strange esease, in Ette and Umuopu communities in the Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of the state.

In a statement on Wednesday by the Commissioner of Health, Prof. Ikechukwu Obi, said the vaccination for yellow fever in the affected communities was in compliance with the directives of the State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and in line with the laid down guidelines to combat such an epidemic.

The commissioner added that the state had notified the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, National Primary Health Care Development Agency and the National Arbovirus and Vectors Research Centre.

“If you are not feeling well, please visit a nearby hospital,” Obi added

FG ratifies Nigeria’s AfCTA membership, N62.7bn for Kano-Katsina road

The Federal Government on Wednesday ratified Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The decision was taken at the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

AfCFTA was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations.

The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union.

Mohammed said with the ratification, Nigeria has beaten the December 5, 2020 deadline set for all countries to ratify their membership.

The minister said, “The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment presented a memo today (Wednesday) asking the Federal Executive Council to ratify Nigeria’s membership of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“You remember that on July 7, 2019, Nigeria signed the AfCFTA agreement in Niamey during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.

“The effective date ought to have been July 2020. But as a result of the pandemic, it was postponed to January 1, 2021 and all member-states were given up to December 5 to ratify the agreement. That is precisely what Nigeria did today.”

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the council also approved N62.7bn for the construction of Kano-Dawakin Tofa-Gwarzo road linking Kano and Katsina States.

US 2020 election: America fails the standards it set Nigeria

IN 2015, the United States exerted unbearable pressure on Nigeria to ensure its presidential election did not descend into a much-feared existential crisis. It worked! Nigeria had an orderly transfer of power. But now, the same physician could not, it seems, heal herself!

Last week, America convulsed as it held its presidential poll. For four agonising days, the US kept the world on tenterhooks amid wild allegations of massive electoral fraud. Even today, ten days after the poll, held on November 3, the situation remains febrile as the losing candidate refuses to make the customary concession speech.

But as I watched the unfortunate events in the United States, I couldn’t help but remember Nigeria’s presidential election in 2015 and how America’s active intervention helped ensure its success, averting a widely predicted post-election catastrophe.

The history of Nigeria’s 2015 presidential poll is incomplete without a prominent place for America’s role. In a statement in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari said: “I will never forget the role the US played in the stability of Nigeria.” He implied that had the US not “exerted pressure”, as he put it, things would have turned out differently!

Of course, this was against the backdrop of a high-stakes election dogged by apocalyptic predictions of widespread post-election violence and possible disintegration of Nigeria. As many will recall, the election campaign was extremely divisive and polarising. President Goodluck Jonathan’s supporters threatened to blow up oil installations if he lost. Buhari’s supporters vowed to make Nigeria ungovernable if he did not win.

These were not empty threats. In 2011, when Buhari lost to Jonathan in that year’s presidential race, nearly 900 people died in post-election violence in the North. And the Niger Delta militants had a history of blowing up oil and gas installations. So, the western world did not take the risks of post-election violence and Nigeria’s possible breakup lightly. They swung into action, led by the United States.

The then US vice president, now president-elect, Joe Biden made many phone calls to Buhari and Jonathan urging them to ensure a free, fair and peaceful election. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, visited Nigeria several times to talk to Buhari and Jonathan. And President Barack Obama himself addressed Nigerians directly via a broadcast, invoking the old civil war mantra:

BREAKING: Benue Health Commissioner, Dr Ikwulono, is dead

The Benue State Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Emmanuel Ikwulono. has died.

Dr Ikwulono died Wednesday afternoon after spending three months as Commissioner. He was sworn in on August 5, 2020, after his predecessor, Dr Sunday Ongbabo resigned his position as a member of the State Executive Council.

Though no formal statement has been issued by the family of the deceased, a Government House source confirmed that the Commissioner died of complications at a Jos hospital after undergoing surgery for an undisclosed ailment.

“He attended the last State Executive Council meeting last week and subsequently went for surgery operation.

His death came as a rude shock this evening,” the source added.

Meanwhile, it was gathered at the time of this report that Governor Samuel Ortom had been in shock after receiving the news of the sudden demise of the Commissioner.

ASUU can’t claim varsity autonomy, says Fed Govt

THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) cannot claim to be autonomous when lecturers are paid by the government, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said on Wednesday.

He said autonomy can only work when a university generates its resources to pay workers and meet its obligation.

Ngige spoke while defending his ministry’s budget before the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment.

Striking lecturers have refused to call off their seven-month strike because of disagreement with the government over the Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPIS).

ASUU claimed that enrolling on the platform would erode the autonomy of the university system.

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) yesterday issued a 14-day ultimatum to parties to resolve the lingering strike or face nationwide protests.

Ngige, according to a statement by his media aide, Emmanuel Nzomiwu, told the lawmakers that the Federal Government was addressing the strike holistically to ensure that other unions in the university system were carried along.

Besides, the minister said the Federal Government has met most of the union’s demands.

“Out of the eight demands of ASUU, the government has solved five. We have made N50 billion available; N20 billion for the revitalisation of the universities and N30 billion for Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).

“The union agreed and went back to their members, only to return and say that the money for EAA should be for ASUU members alone, excluding other unions, namely, SSANU, NASU and NAAT,” Ngige said.

He explained that the Federal Government cannot ignore the other unions as such could be counter-productive to the smooth running of the university system.

“We cannot ignore the other unions whose services are indispensable for the full functioning of the university. If we ignore them, even if ASUU calls off the strike, the other unions will down tools-close the lecture rooms, the libraries, the laboratories- and, even the university gate,” the minister said.

On the contentious issue of IPPIS, the minister said the University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS), which ASUU brought as an alternative has been sent to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for assessment.

Ronaldo considers Old Trafford returns

Manchester United have reportedly contacted Cristiano Ronaldo with the view to re-signing the Portugal international during next summer’s transfer window.

The 35-year-old’s existing deal with Juventus is due to run until June 2022, but the Italian champions are allegedly keen to offload the attacker next summer to reduce the wage bill.

Paris Saint-Germain have been strongly linked with the forward, but according to FOX Sports journalist Christian Martin, United are in talks with the Portuguese over a return, and Juve would be prepared to negotiate with the 20-time English champions.

“Our sources in Manchester and Porto confirm that Manchester United tempted Cristiano Ronaldo with a return to the club for next season. The Portuguese star is considering it. Juventus will negotiate a deal if Ronaldo asks for it,” Martin posted on Twitter.

Ronaldo turned out for United between 2003 and 2009, scoring 118 goals in 292 appearances, winning three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and one Champions League in the process.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored 71 times in 94 appearances for Juve since arriving from Real Madrid, including six goals in five outings in all competitions this term.

‘N2.3tr pension fund available for real sector investment’

There is N2.3 trillion pension fund for investment in the real sector, the Director-General, National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, has said.

This, she said, is available via asset classes such as infrastructure funds, infrastructure bond and corporate infrastructure bond.

The PenCom boss, who was represented by Deputy Zonal Head, National Pension Commission (PenCom), Sola Adeseun, spoke at the Annual Conference of Insurance and Pension Journalists at the Four Points in Lagos.

She stated that the N2.3 trillion represents 20 per cent of portfolio limit out of the total pension fund, which stands at N11.3 trillion as at August 31, 2020.

Speaking on the theme: Promoting Bankable Investments Portfolio for Insurance and Pension Sectors, she noted that the commission along with pension operators are desirous of ploughing some of these funds into the real sector.

She noted that investment of the funds in the real sector will create more job which means more people will be employed and come under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and will further grow the asset under management.

She said: “The pension industry has pooled funds of over N11 trillion in the last 14 to 15 years. This is impressive and an enviable feat but what will be more appreciated is how we can deploy such funds into the real sector.

“The commission itself is desirous of ploughing some of these funds into the real sector because we believe it will be a win-win situation for everybody. It will create more jobs. This means that more people will come under the scheme as contributors and will further grow the asset under management. We have been working with partners, agencies of government, private sector participants and even multilateral organisations to deepen the investment horizon in the country.

“PenCom as the regulator in the pension space in Nigeria has a guiding regulatory philosophy. Our primary objective in our oversight function is that the safety of funds is very key while fair returns on the investment is also something we look at. So, it’s from this perspective that we came up with regulations that guide the investment of pension funds in the investment space. These regulations are always looked at in conjunction with stakeholders.

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ASI Guinness Nigeria Plc MTNN NASCON Allied Industries Plc Nigerian Stock Exchange

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