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NDE Day: Hope PSBank reaffirms partnership with FG on job creation

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The Managing Director, Hope PSBank, Mr. Ayotunde Kuponiyi, disclosed this during the Flag off/Empowerment Ceremony of NDE Programes for the beneficiaries of Extended Special Public Works(ESPW) instituted by the Federal Government as well as the formal launch of Hope PSBank Agency POS terminal, which was held on Monday, December 13, 2021, in Warri, Delta.

Kuponiyi stated that the ESPW programme of the Federal Government is in total alignment with the social objective of the bank, saying that the bank has mapped out an exit strategy for participants such that beneficiaries can now render financial services to customers whilst also earning a living by so doing.

Beneficiaries, armed with vocational skills, are now being empowered as Agents of the Bank to deliver Digital Financial Services in their respective LGAs, which helps to drive Financial Inclusion and stimulate economic activities in these LGAs,” he added.

While expressing his profound appreciation to the Federal Government through the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, as well as the National Directorate for Employment for the support and commitment toward the success of the exit strategy for the participants, he disclosed that, through this initiative, the bank has so far successfully Kuponiyi over 65,000 participants of the scheme as agents of the bank till date.

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The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, in his remarks, while flagging off the empowerment ceremony, explained that the programme is part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s strategy to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within ten years.

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“These empowerment programmes, entrepreneurship programmes and all that, were designed to get to the very bottom of the grassroots, assist more businesses, skill up Nigerians and to ensure that they are self-reliant and self-employed. This is the real employment we are talking about. And for all the beneficiaries here today, 684 of them here today, a new journey begins in their lives”, he added.

Keyamo tasked beneficiaries of the empowerment programme to pay adequate attention during the training and ensure that they take full advantage of the unique opportunities to create value for themselves and others.

In his welcome address, Director-General of National Directorate of Employment, Mallam Abubakar Nuhu Fikpo, disclosed that over 77,000 participants of the ESPW programme have so far been provided with the necessary skills and empowerment to render financial payment services to customers across the nation through the Hope Payment Services Bank.

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Port Harcourt refinery begins operation July

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The 210,000-barrel-per-day Port-Harcourt refinery may finally commence operations by the end of July after several postponements.

The new date was disclosed on Monday by the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu.

He stated that the development would stimulate economic activities, reduce the price of petroleum products and ensure adequate supply.

Last year in December, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, announced the mechanical completion and flare start-off of the biggest crude refinery in Port Harcourt.

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The refineries comprise two units, with the old plant having a refined capacity of 60,000 barrels per day and the new plant has 150,000 BPD.

The refinery shut down in March 2019 for the first phase of repair works after the government secured the service of a technical adviser of Itay’s Maire Tecnimont to handle the reviews of the refinery complex, with oil major Eni appointed technical adviser.

On March 15, 2024, it was reported that the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, stated that the Port Harcourt refinery would commence operations in about two weeks.

The NNPC boss disclosed this during a press briefing after he appeared before the Senate Ad hoc committee investigating the various turnaround maintenance projects of the country’s refineries.

He said, “We did a mechanical completion of the refinery that was what we said in December. We now have crude oil already stocked in the refinery. We are doing regulatory compliance tests that must happen in every refinery before you start it, and I assure you that this Port Harcourt refinery will start in two weeks.”

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However, the machinery had yet to begin operations two months after he made the promise.

In an exclusive interview on Monday, the IPMAN official stated that the work done represented a complete turnaround, not just rehabilitation, emphasising that every effort would be made to meet the July deadline.

Ukadike said, “Yes when we visited the place, the MD told us that the refinery was almost ready and by the end of July, they would start producing. It has been turned into a new one they changed all the armoured cable to brand new and everything there is almost like a brand-new refinery.

“The turnaround on maintenance is very massive and the job is being done day and night. All hands are on deck to make sure that they meet that target. By ending of July the refinery should be ready.”

When reminded of several promises by the government to kick start the project, Ukadike replied, “Yes, there have been delays but they didn’t tell us any reason for the delay of the last deadline given in April.

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“They are not facing any challenges at all; I can say the refinery is 99 per cent ready.

“What we want is competition. I am very sure that with the two refineries, the price of petrol will be reduced. Dangote is coming soon and the Port Harcourt refinery is almost ready too and that is very good. We need that competition for the benefit of the nation.”

The new timeline coincides with a proposal by the Dangote Refinery to commence petrol production by ending of next month (June).

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The Chairman of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, while speaking at the Africa CEO forum annual summit in Kigali, assured Nigerians that following the laid-down plans of the Dangote Refinery, Nigeria would no longer need to import petrol starting next month.

According to him, the refinery can meet West Africa’s petrol and diesel needs, as well as the continent’s aviation fuel demand.

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With an average monthly consumption of 1 billion litres, Nigeria currently spends approximately N520bn on the importation of PMS every month.

This means the government may cut approximately N6.2tn yearly import bill.

Commenting, the NNPCL Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Femi Soneye, said regulatory approvals from international bodies were the only impediment stalling the operational commencement of the refinery.

Soneye in an exclusive interview with our correspondent on Monday reiterated that mechanical completion had been achieved, and all pipes were operating flawlessly, transporting crude oil supplied by Shell.

He said, “We have said that the mechanical completion has been done and every other thing is done. There is crude oil and all the pipes are working; we are only waiting for regulatory approvals. Like I said, some of our materials and the things we use have to do with nuclear and we need the nuclear authorities to give us approval to use all those things at the site.

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“And some of these approvals come from bodies outside of Nigeria. Until they give us those approvals, we can’t begin operations. We are ready to go but if something happens without it, which would be another issue. Everything has been completed in terms of our work, and once we get those approvals, it will start operations.”

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Real estate firm approves N14.50 dividend

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SFS Real Estate Investment Trust says it will pay N14.50 per share as dividends to its shareholders for 2023.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of SFS Capital Nigeria Limited, Patrick Ilodianya, disclosed this during the company’s general meeting held on Tuesday in Lagos.

According to Ilodianya, the SFS Real Estate Investment Trust, formerly known as Skye Shelter Fund, a subsidiary of SFS Capital Nigeria, witnessed a 70 per cent growth in net income to N317.5m in 2023 from N186.6m in the prior year.

“Concurrently, we observed a growth in dividend payouts of 71.60 per cent, nearly doubling,” he stated.

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The managing director explained that despite encountering challenging market conditions, SFS REIT consistently delivered dividends every year since its inception.

“In 2023, SFS REIT is proposing a dividend of N14.50 per share, marking this the highest dividend ever distributed in the Fund’s 17-year history.

“To contextualise these achievements, consider an investor who acquired SFS REIT shares on January 1, 2023, at a share price of N77.00. This investor would witness a capital appreciation of N24.35 per share (31.62 per cent), with the current share price standing at N101.35 per share.

“The overwhelming demand for shares has rendered them currently unavailable for purchase, as demand far exceeds supply. A dividend payout of N14.50 per share translates to an 18.83 per cent return compared to the share price on January 1, 2023, resulting in an estimated total return of over 50 per cent annually,” Ilodianya enunciated.

He spoke further that SFS REIT had invested in multiple units within organised and efficiently managed residential estates along the expanding Lekki corridor.

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He listed some notable investments, including Milverton Court Estate, Victoria Crest V Estate, Sapphire Gardens Estate, Maben Phase 2 Estate, Bourdillon Court Estate, Victory Park Estate, and Cromwell Court Estate.

He added that real estate returns remain stable while adjusting to inflation and consistently appreciating under skilled fund managers.

“Within SFS REIT, our Average Occupancy rate exceeds 98 per cent, while the average rental default rate remains below 1.5 per cent. Over the years, we have implemented various Proptech initiatives aimed at optimising rent collection, increasing occupancy rates, and reducing default occurrences.

“Leveraging technology, we have streamlined our property acquisition and disposal processes, enhanced tenant sourcing and appraisal procedures, automated entry/access control, and facilitated electricity vending.

“With 17 years of experience under our belt, SFS Capital Nigeria Limited remains exceedingly optimistic about the future. Positioned strategically, we are poised to implement innovative strategies to expand the fund and enhance its yield. While our current dividend payout of N14.50 per share represents the pinnacle in the history of REITs, we anticipate no decline. Instead, we envision SFS REIT continuing to deliver higher dividends in the foreseeable future,” he concluded.

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Cement price 69% higher in Nigeria than India – Reps C’ttee

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The House of Representatives Joint Committee investigating the arbitrary increase in the price of cement in Nigeria has lamented the cost of the commodity, compared to what obtains in other African countries.

Recall that on March 13, 2024, the House resolved to investigate the incessant increase in the price of cement following the adoption of the motion co-sponsored by Gaza Gbefwi (SDP, Nasarawa) and Ademorin Kuye (APC, Lagos).

On February 13, the Federal Government and cement manufacturers agreed to peg the price of a 50kg bag of cement between N7,000 and N8,000.

At the public hearing on the subject matter on Tuesday organized by the House Joint Committee in Abuja, the Chairman, House Committee on Solid Minerals, Gaza Gbefwi said there’s a need to address the situation, noting that in most African countries, the price of cement is lower compared to what obtains in Nigeria.

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He said, “Our findings showed that the price of cement is 69 per cent higher in Nigeria than in India, 39 per cent higher in Nigeria than in Zambia and 29 per cent higher than in Kenya given the official exchange rate.”

Speaking at the event, the Speaker, Abbas Tajudeen represented by the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, assured the manufacturers that the public hearing was not intended to witch-hunt them but an avenue to prefer solutions to the challenges affecting the housing sector, particularly the high cost of cement across the country.

…Details later

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