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Foreign airlines’ blocked funds drop to $783m – IATA




The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported that its members have $783 million trapped in Nigeria as of August 2023, down from $814 million in June. This was disclosed by IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East, Kamil Al Awadhi.

Al Awadhi commended the recent commitment by Nigeria’s new Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, to tackle the issue of foreign airlines’ blocked funds in the country. He also called on the new government for continued and closer consultation with the industry while developing short- and long-term solutions for foreign exchange access to both domestic and foreign carriers.

The issue of airlines’ trapped funds has lingered for long due to Nigeria’s foreign exchange scarcity. Last week, Minister Keyamo said he had directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to hold quarterly reconciliation meetings to resolve the issue.

Extended commentary:

IATA’s report is a positive sign that Nigeria is making progress in addressing the issue of trapped airline funds. However, the fact that there is still a significant amount of money trapped in the country is a concern.

The Nigerian government has taken a number of steps to address the issue, including increasing the amount of foreign exchange available to airlines and holding regular reconciliation meetings. However, more needs to be done to ensure that airlines are able to repatriate their earnings from Nigeria in a timely manner.

The trapped funds issue is a major challenge for the Nigerian aviation industry. It can lead to higher fares for passengers and can make it difficult for airlines to operate in Nigeria. The government needs to continue to work with the industry to find a sustainable solution to the problem.

In addition to the economic challenges posed by the trapped funds issue, it is also a matter of reputational risk for Nigeria. The fact that foreign airlines are unable to repatriate their earnings from the country could discourage other airlines from operating in Nigeria. This could lead to a reduction in air connectivity, which would have a negative impact on the country’s economy and tourism industry.

The Nigerian government needs to take decisive action to resolve the trapped funds issue. This could include increasing the amount of foreign exchange available to airlines, providing financial assistance to airlines, or working with the international community to develop a solution. It is important to note that resolving the trapped funds issue is not just in the interests of the airlines, but also in the interests of Nigeria itself.

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$1tn economy: Mergers, acquisitions loom as CBN plans banks’ recapitalization




Mergers and acquisitions are on the horizon for Nigeria’s Deposit Money Banks as they prepare for another round of recapitalization, aligning with the country’s target of achieving a $1 trillion economy. The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, recently announced plans to recapitalize DMBs during his speech at the 50th-anniversary dinner of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria in Lagos.

Cardoso emphasized the importance of testing the adequacy of Nigeria’s banking industry to meet President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s economic target. This move follows the floating of Nigeria’s currency, the Naira, against other currencies, resulting in a significant devaluation. The unification of the exchange rate on June 14 prompted the need for a reevaluation of banks’ capital bases.

Eighteen years ago, Nigeria’s banks were recapitalized from N2 billion to N25 billion when the exchange rate was N100/$1. The subsequent depreciation of the Naira to over N780/$1 supports the Central Bank’s decision to pursue recapitalization.

The fate of the country’s 24 commercial banks, particularly those newly established under Governor Godwin Emefiele, raises concerns. Tier 1 banks, including Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Company, Zenith Bank, and United Bank of Africa, demonstrated readiness with a combined capital base of N9.6 trillion at the end of 2022.

However, uncertainties persist about the survival of other banks. The foreign exchange market’s instability, with the Naira closing at N814.60/$1, and rising inflation at 27.33% in October, pose additional challenges to Nigeria’s economy.

Despite these concerns, the President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Ken Opara, expressed confidence in the banks’ ability to meet the recapitalization objectives. Industry experts like Idakolo Gbolade and Aminu Gwadabe acknowledge the necessity of recapitalization but suggest a realistic timeframe and careful consideration of economic factors.

Gbolade recommends a capitalization of $10 to $15 billion for banks, emphasizing the need for regional, national, and international considerations to support smaller banks. Gwadabe highlights the impact on the entire economic sector, calling for collaboration and consultation between the Central Bank and stakeholders.

Meanwhile, Prof Godwin Oyedokun from Lead City University acknowledges that bank recapitalization aims to strengthen the financial sector but notes the potential challenges for individual banks in terms of cost and time.

In summary, while the recapitalization exercise is seen as necessary for the growth and stability of Nigeria’s banking sector and overall economy, it is expected to be a complex process with implications for individual banks.

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Ministry of Finance Incorporated: Can Takang Deliver?




Walter Duru, Ph.D

Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has just appointed a new leadership for the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI), an asset holding and management company under the Federal Ministry of Finance, with mandate as the sole manager of all federal government investment interests.

According to a statement by Presidential Spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, former Finance Minister, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman is reappointed as Chairman of a 10-man Board of Directors of MOFI, while Dr. Armstrong Ume Takang is also reappointed to serve as the Managing Director/CEO of the organisation.

The other appointees include Tajudeen Datti Ahmed, Executive Director, Portfolio Management; Femi Ogunseinde, Executive Director, Investment Management and Mrs. Oluwakemi Owonubi, Executive Director, Risk.

The non-executive directors are Mr. Ike Chioke, Ms. Chantelle Abdul, Mr. Alheri Nyako, Mr. Bolaji Rafiu Elelu and Mrs. Fatima Nana Mede.

To describe the team as perfect is an understatement, as, when something is described as sweet, it is also important to state what it tastes like. The crux of this article is the appropriateness of the person of the Managing Director, Dr. Armstrong Ume Takong, saddled with the responsibility of the day-to-day running of the organisation.

In the ever-evolving landscape of finance and governance, the appointment of a CEO/Managing Director plays a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of an organization.

Dr. Armstrong Takang emerges as the ideal candidate for the leadership role at the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, bringing with him a wealth of experience, a proven track record, and a vision for transformative change.

Dr. Takang’s academic background, marked by advanced degrees in Computer Science, Finance and Business exposure/experience, sets the stage for his understanding of the intricate dynamics within the financial, business and investment sector(s). He is well equipped with strategies for exploring progressive solutions to economic challenges.

With an impressive career spanning over decades, Dr. Takang has honed his leadership skills in both public and private sectors. His tenure as the Chief Executive Officer of a leading multinational corporation showcased his ability to navigate complex landscapes, implement strategic financial planning, and drive sustainable growth. These experiences uniquely position him to bring a fresh perspective to the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.

One of Dr. Takang’s standout qualities is his commitment to transparency and accountability. In an era where financial governance is under intense scrutiny, his track record of implementing robust financial controls and ensuring adherence to international standards is commendable.

This commitment to transparency not only fosters trust but also aligns with MOFI’s mission to uphold the highest standards of fiscal responsibility.

Furthermore, Dr. Takang’s innovative approach to problem-solving sets him apart as a forward-thinking leader. His past initiatives, such as spearheading digital transformation in financial processes and advocating for sustainable financial practices, underscore his ability to embrace change and leverage technology for efficiency gains.

In an era where agility and adaptability are crucial, Dr. Takang’s progressive mindset positions MOFI for success in the face of evolving economic landscapes.

As a leader, Dr. Takang places a premium on talent development and team collaboration. His previous roles have seen him cultivate high-performing teams by fostering a culture of continuous learning and collaboration.

This emphasis on human capital is pivotal for the MOFI, ensuring that it can effectively navigate the challenges of an ever-changing global economy.

Beyond his professional acumen, Dr. Takang is known for his civic engagement and commitment to corporate social responsibility. His involvement in community development projects demonstrates a holistic understanding of the impact businesses can have on society. His previous positions, leadership roles and achievements speak volumes for him.

Prior to being MOFI’s CEO, Takang was the CEO of Growth Alliance Partners (GAP), a pan-African firm focused on providing post-investment value-add services to Private Equity backed businesses. He helped to turn around several businesses to create shareholder value.

His decades-long career in investment consultancy and public reforms traverses the public and private sectors across Africa, and in the US, where he worked at the New York Office of the KPMG.

He was Team Lead for a Private Banking Group, managed the Integrated Financial and Economic Management Information System (IFEMIS) Project in Nigeria, and led the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).

Many do not know that Dr Armstrong was pivotal in designing and implementing several national initiatives like the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the Office for Nigerian Content Development in ICT under NITDA, the ICT component of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)/Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), among others.

He is not new in the political environment, particularly, within the Ministry of Finance. He was Special Adviser to the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, as well as Lead of the MOFI Transformation Team. It is a terrain that he is very conversant with, and this will ease stakeholder engagement, particularly, when there is a proper stakeholder management strategy in place.

Dr. Armstrong Takang’s appointment as the CEO of MOFI is a strategic move toward ushering in a new era of financial leadership, inclusivity, and discipline in managing public investments.

His blend of academic excellence, extensive experience, commitment to transparency, innovative thinking, and emphasis on talent development makes him the perfect fit for steering MOFI towards greater heights.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the leadership of MOFI, as announced, is a perfect combination. The transformations that MOFI has experienced in the last eleven months, under the leadership of Dr. Shamsudeen Usman as Chairman, and Dr. Armstrong Takong as Chief Executive Officer is evident and must not be paused.

As the financial landscape continues to evolve, Nigerians expect that Dr. Takang’s leadership must not only meet the challenges of the present, but proactively shape the future of financial governance.

It is safe to conclude that Mr. President’s decision to reappoint the duo of Shamsudeen Usman and Armstrong Takong is an act of patriotism.

Permit me to also single out Mr. Ike Chioke, the Group Managing Director at Afrinvest West Africa Limited, who also made the list, as a non-executive director.

With the calibre of persons on the present MOFI leadership team, failure is not an option.

MOFI is expected to support the Federal Government’s efforts towards addressing economic challenges, while spurring the renewal of the economy. There is no better time to be relevant.

Expectations are very high, and Nigerians are in a hurry to see results. Let Federal Government’s investments work for the country.

The time to act is now!

Dr. Chike Walter Duru (Assistant Professor of Communication) is a communication expert, researcher, public relations, and stakeholder engagement consultant. He could be reached on:


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Rising inflation pushes more Nigerians into poverty under Tinubu govt




Nigeria’s escalating inflation is causing increasing hardship for its citizens, resulting in a shrinking purchasing power and heightened poverty levels during President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration. Headline inflation surged 24 times in two years to reach 27.33% in October, primarily driven by a spike in food inflation to 31.52% from September’s 30.64%. This inflationary trend is adversely affecting various aspects of daily life, including the costs of food items, accommodation, clothing, electricity, and education fees.

While the Central Bank of Nigeria asserts that its recent monetary policies are yielding positive results, a market survey reveals a significant surge in food prices, with essentials such as rice, beans, groundnut oil, bread, eggs, and garri experiencing notable increases. The impact of inflation is vividly described by residents such as Chinedu Odah, who notes the challenges of meeting basic needs and rising education costs.

Across different regions, Nigerians report struggling with the soaring prices of food items, leading to reduced meal frequency and increased financial burdens. The World Bank data indicates that four million Nigerians slipped into poverty within the first five months of 2023 due to accelerating inflation. Despite President Tinubu’s promises to revitalize the economy, the fuel subsidy removal and foreign market liberalization since June have negatively impacted the nation’s economic stability.

Although the government claims improved revenue after subsidy removal, the effects on the well-being of Nigerians remain elusive. Nigeria’s high debt servicing, as reported by the World Bank, coupled with negative economic indicators like inflation, foreign exchange rates, and interest rates, paints a challenging economic scenario. The government’s initiatives, such as increasing the minimum wage, rolling out Compressed Natural Gas buses, and addressing the tax gap, are viewed as steps toward economic recovery.

However, the delay in implementing certain pledges, such as the N75,000 payment to vulnerable Nigerians, raises concerns about the effectiveness of these measures. Experts emphasize the urgent need to create employment opportunities, focus on production, and address the challenges in agriculture to combat inflation and boost economic growth. The prevailing economic difficulties underscore the resilience of Nigerians in the face of these challenges.

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