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Obi Cubana insists Odogwu Bitters will create over 5000 jobs for Nigerians

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Obinna Iyiegbu, commonly known as Obi Cubana, Chairman, Cubana Group, expresses his willingness to create over 5000 fresh jobs for Nigerians with the unveiling of his bitters brand of herbal alcoholic beverage, Odogwu Bitters.

As the Chairman of Cubana Group, one of the subsidiaries of your group recently launched Odogwu Bitters. Can you tell us what the drink is all about, and how you intend to use it in boosting the economy?

First and foremost, let me say the new investment would gulp between N2 billion and N20 billion in the next 24 months.

To answer the first aspect of the question, Odogwu Bitters is a drink for all classes of people, and it is a herbal alcoholic drink. It contains an ancient herbal mix which also includes honey and ginger.

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This recipe has been trusted and proven to guarantee a fast and efficient result in the body.

We also gathered that every opportunity that is inherent in the process of distributing the drinking will be used to empower the people. Can you throw light on this?

Yes, it is true .One of the decisions taken on the product distribution was based on trust and we are prepared through the product distribution to empower people without startup fund, but trusted to return the money.

In terms of positioning the brand in the competitive market, what are you looking at?

We are looking beyond the Nigerian shore. We hope to position it and compete on both local and international market.

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We are poised to take the new beverage beyond the shores of Nigeria. In fact, we are already exporting to some African and European countries.

Our intention is to hit the United States with the drink, and we have already made a big statement by placing the advert in Times Square.

What measure do you intend adopting to checkmate the efforts of unscrupulous business people that may resort to faking the drink?

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We have already put a measure tagged DnD (Drink and Destroy) on ground.

Explanatorily put, the measure entails a culture of checkmating criminal elements from faking the product.

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Every other details concerning the strategy cannot be disclosed in this parley as it is not inadvisable being part of our marketing strategy.

What makes Odogwu Bitter different from other brands of bitters in the market?

What we want to achieve with Odogwu Bitters is to luxuriate bitters.

Bitters is usually consumed by those in the lower stratum of the societal ladder, but we want to change that; we want to improve the quality of bitters so much that those in the upper echelon of the society will desire it.

In fact, we deploy high quality technology to blend it and we have even added some other ingredients such as honey and ginger to improve its quality, yet the price is at par with others in the market.

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Our marketing strategy is such that Odogwu Bitters will be sold in major countries of the world. Already, we are making plans to sell it in the USA, United Kingdom, South Africa and other countries.

I assure Nigerians that, ‘white people’ will take Odogwu. And that means foreign exchange earnings for the country.

So, apart from creating employment opportunities locally and empowering critical sectors of the economy, we will also generate forex for the country.

Can you tell us the extent to which job will be created and the capacity of your factory?

The current capacity of our factory is 200,000 cartons a month.

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Our first production was 100,000 cartons, but to my amazement, these were exhausted in less than 48 hours.

So, we have already started making plans to increase our production capacity. We are looking at doing one million cartons in a month. That means increasing our current capacity five times.

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Now, we have about 300 employees. By the time our new factories come on stream, we will have no fewer than 5,000 employees, and not only that, over N20 billion would be invested in the company within the next two years.

The company would also create tens of thousands of indirect jobs through local sourcing of raw materials, haulage and packaging.

How is the company been funded?

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The project is funded by Fidelity Bank. For the first phase, N2 billion was approved , but we are looking at injecting additional N20 billion into the business within the next 24 months.

Having made your marks in other areas of business ventures such as in hospitality industry and real estate, why do you decide to go into bitters production?

Yes, we ventured into production of drinks to bridge the gap in the industry. What we want to achieve with Odogwu Bitters is to luxuriate bitters.

Bitters is usually consumed by those in the lower stratum of the societal ladder, but we want to change that, we want to improve the quality of bitters so much that those in the upper echelon of the society will desire it.

As earlier disclosed in this parley, we deploy high quality technology to blend it and we have even added some other ingredients such as honey and ginger to improve its quality, yet the price is at par with others in the market.

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There is no doubt that the distillery industry is highly competitive, particularly from local point of view as players in the sector have been lamenting before now. What do you intend to do to mitigate this challenge?

Beyond advertising and marketing, we may consistently invest in reward scheme to strengthen relationship with distributors and consumers. In spite of the challenges that the sector is faced with, the we will continue to work hard to ensure that Odogwu Bitters is always available and Customers’ complaints promptly resolved at all times.

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Again, to sustain loyalty of our patrons, we may resort to holding annual Distributors awards and the relaunch of our products when it experiences decline.

These, as you know, are normal for any investor in our kind of industry.

In fact, I must admit that with many business owners within and outside African continent looking in the direction of the Nigerian market, the terrain appears to have become more competitive, even as consumers too seem to have become more sophisticated and selective.

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As a result of this, each of the players is engaging the market through different positioning approaches to gain competitive edge. Of course, in our own part, we are not going to be operating and fold our hands looking; we have to compete because it is a huge market.

There is no denying the fact that with the production of Odogwu bitters that you will no doubt be operating within an industry where manufacturers are prone to be stifled by excessive taxation, excise duties among the imposition of other cost. In this case, what can you tell the federal government as a way of appealing that the sector should be given enabling environment to operate?

The only appeal I can extend to the Federal Government in this parley for now is that downward review of excise duties for Wines and Spirits should be considered.

Again, that there is need for the government to ameliorate bad infrastructure, especially roads linking production sites of many companies as well as roads linking major cities. You will agree with me that the current state of the roads have become a hindrance in the distribution of products and goods across the nation.

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Forex: BDC operators plan automation to tackle street trading, others

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The Association of Bureau De’Change Operators of Nigeria has concluded plans to automate its trading operations to eliminate the activities of market speculators and street traders.

This was as the association backed the recent clampdown by the government on persons selling and buying foreign currencies on the streets.

Since the year started, Nigeria’s local currency has depreciated severely, sliding down to N1,900 on Wednesday owing to low liquidity and surging demand for the US dollar.

The ABCON President, Aminu Gwadabe, speaking in an interview with our correspondent on Wednesday, said the association has developed an automation platform, which, if okayed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, would help revolutionise the retail FX market.

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He noted that the automation process will be launched in three weeks pending a “no objection” approval from the CBN.

Gwadabe said, “We have now put a lot of recommendations on how we can at least utilise technology, innovation, and automation in our operations.

“In three weeks, we will automate the system. We already have the automation system in place just for the CBN to give us the approval for “No Objection” that is all we asking.

“We can entirely automate the industry of any retail trader, we will automate them in three weeks, we already built the automation platform it is there for them. We have sent it to them, and we are only waiting for ‘no objection’ approval. This innovation will also eliminate street trading.”

Gwadabe further advised that the ongoing raids and arrests of traders should not be misconstrued, revealing that FX street traders ambush customers of licensed operators, thereby causing a lull in their operations.

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He added, “What is happening is not targeted at licenced Bureau De’Change but the operators of FX street trading.

“For us, we are against street trading and support any action that will remove FX street traders. Their activities affect me also. I have an office but my clients cannot come to my office because of the menace of street traders.”

On the volatility in the FX market, Gwadabe explained that various factors, including the imbalance between supply and demand and liquidity, were responsible.

He urged members of the association to strictly adhere to all FX regulations and conduct their operations within their offices.

On Wednesday, the naira depreciated further to N1,900 against the dollar in the parallel market.

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According to currency operators, the naira exchange declined by 9.83 per cent from the N1,730 recorded at the beginning of the week and N170 or 9.82 per cent from the trading rate on Tuesday.

This is even as Bureau de Change operators battle for liquidity to meet the surging demands for the greenback.

On Wednesday, BDC operators quoted the buying rate at N1,850 and the selling rate at N1,900, leaving a profit margin of N50.

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Moniepoint MfB, CAC partner to boost SMEs development, target 30 million businesses in 5 years

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In line with a critical mandate, of the Federal Government to unleash Nigeria’s full economic potential by focusing on job creation, access to capital for small and large businesses and inclusiveness, the definitive bank for small and medium-sized businesses in Nigeria, as well as their customers and employees, Moniepoint Microfinance Bank Limited and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) have joined forces to digitize and formalize operations for over 2 million small and medium businesses across Nigeria.

This unprecedented move will foster economic growth, ensure alignment with regulatory compliance whilst providing SMEs with access to capital that will enable them unlock their potentials, contribute significantly to job creation and drive shared prosperity.

In a brief ceremony which was held at the Bank of Industry, BOI office in Abuja, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, while describing the initiative as monumental, reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to catalyzing economic development by supporting small and medium businesses with funding, thus creating a conducive environment for them to flourish and generate more opportunities.

Acknowledging Moniepoint’s innovative strides, Dr. Uzoka-Anite pledged greater collaboration towards formalizing additional MSMEs. She noted that the Federal Government was prepared to deepen its engagement with the company, adding that it would consider its request for provision of cheaper funding and grants to enable it draw more small businesses into the formal space, as well as create an enabling environment for them to thrive.

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“The current administration is excited and passionate about creating jobs, ensuring financial inclusion and poverty alleviation. These things add up towards economic development. A lot of people have ideas but are impeded by lack of access to the right learning environment and education. Which is why we are happy to collaborate and support players like Moniepoint to bring more people into the financial sector and help the government achieve its mandate,”, the Minister said.

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On his part, Managing Director, Moniepoint MFB, Mr. Babatunde Olofin expressed delight at the partnership and said that the engagement was in furtherance of the organization’s mantra of powering dreams while creating a society where everyone experiences financial happiness.

He said, “”We recognize that these businesses are the lifeblood of economies, so their growth directly supports the entire economy, essentially extending our ability to positively impact everyone else. We are heavily invested in super charging Nigeria’s economic ambitions so that enormous employment opportunities can be created and lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty. This initiative is in strong alignment with the Federal Government’s agenda – financial inclusion, job and wealth creation and economic growth. Our target is that in 5 years, we will onboard 30 million businesses in collaboration with the CAC as we leverage technology to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders.”

Registrar-General/Chief Executive, CAC, Hussaini Ishaq Magaji, SAN lauded the Minister for her visionary strides since assumption of office, noting that the feats recorded by the agency were results of the robust support and guidance she has consistently provided. He stated that the commission’s objective of formalizing 20 million small businesses while describing the 2 million businesses sign-up with Moniepoint MFB as a watershed moment in Nigeria’s economic trajectory which heralds a transformative shift that will lay a sturdy foundation for sustained growth and prosperity in Nigeria.

“Mr. President has promised 50 million jobs for the youths. This ground-breaking ceremony will set the target off. What we are witnessing today has never happened before in Nigeria. The participation of all these stakeholders underscores the profound significance of this occasion, symbolizing a unified resolve to propel Nigeria’s economic landscape towards unprecedented heights of progress and promise,” said the CAC boss.

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The registration of businesses and organizations across the nation has been a core mandate of the CAC over the years. This mandate which confers legal identities on businesses has been instrumental to connecting enterprises to essential opportunities that have facilitated access to financial facilities, and enabled them to increase their revenue streams.

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Shell supplies 475,000 barrels of crude oil to P’Harcourt refinery

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The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said it has completed the supply of 475,000 barrels of crude oil to the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited.

The SPDC said this was in furtherance of the Federal Government’s commitment to increase domestic refining capacity and make petroleum products more readily available in the country.

A statement by Shell Nigeria’s Media Relations Manager, Abimbola Essien-Nelson, on Monday disclosed that the company, “through its Bonny Oil & Gas Terminal has completed the supply of over 475,000bbls of crude oil to the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited.”

According to Essien-Nelson, BOGT resumed the supply last week after a prolonged outage of over five years, during which time the Port Harcourt refinery underwent rehabilitation and integrity activities on its supply pipeline from Bonny Oil & Gas Termina.

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Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria and Managing Director, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, Dr Osagie Okunbor, had said, “Teams from BOGT and PHRC worked through intensive preparations, collaboration, and dedication to make the project successful.

“This is indeed a significant step in the nation’s renewed efforts to utilise key infrastructures to assure the steady supply of products from the refining company to the Nigerian market.”

Okunbor added, “Future supplies from BOGT would be guided by the demand for the product.”

Also, the Bonny Terminal Installation Manager, Osita Nnajiofor, was quoted as saying that before implementing the supplies of the product to the refining company, the project teams first assured the integrity of pipelines relevant to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited subsidiaries, as well as the integrity and maintenance activities on the BOGT refinery export pumps, which had been shut down for an extended period.

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Nnajiofor explained, “These actions resulted in the successful and safe completion of the refinery supply with no harm to people, environment, or equipment.

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“The recommencement of crude oil supply from the Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal to the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited is a significant achievement and a game-changer for the industry and the country and will support the Federal Government’s aspiration of a steady supply of petroleum products to the downstream market and other associated benefits to the economy of the nation.”

Earlier the NNPCL has recently made known its decision to hand over the rehabilitated Port Harcourt refinery to private operators.

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