Business

Akeem ReachnaijaDecember 23, 2018

5min40

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is considering the probe of some state governors for allegedly diverting fees meant for payment to consultants who assisted states on the London-Paris Club loan refund.

Some states may not be able to access the last tranche of refund of about $2,689,279,365 unless they allow the federal government to deduct the consultants’ fees at source.

The consultants are insisting on the payment of their $350million before the $2.6billion is released to states.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that while the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) offered to pay its consultants about two per cent for services, most states promised their consultants between five to 10 per cent.

The NGF had hired Biz Plus Limited and GSL Consulting Limited as its consultants

Some governors that did not hire consultants are now alleged to have collected consultancy fess between five and 10 percent for themselves.

President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the release of N522.74 billion (first tranche) refund to states pending reconciliation of records following protests by states against over deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002.

Each state was entitled to N14.5 billion or 25% of the amount claimed.

The second tranche of N243.79billion was released in December 2017.

The release of the cash was trailed by a huge controversy, including payment of N19billion consultancy fees and $86million into the accounts of the NGF.

The EFCC in the last two and a half years had been investigating the alleged diversion of the N19billion under the guise of consultancy fees.

About $183,000 out of the N3.5billion was transferred to a jewellery firm in Dubai bring patronized by some ranking Senators.

About four suspects are already facing trial for alleged conversion of N3.5billion out of N19billion London-Paris Club refund to states.

But investigation revealed that many governors and past governors are in trouble over the refund.

Findings revealed that most governors have not paid the consultants they engaged to trace their loan records, repayment and their states’ share of refund.

A reliable source, who spoke in confidence, said: “We are still investigating the London-Paris Club refund because there had been issues on the cash. Some governors have diverted the refund and deducted consultancy fees without paying consultants.

“Most governors have reneged on the agreement to pay the consultants engaged by their states.

“While the NGF offered to pay consultants about two per cent, some states negotiated five to 10% with their consultants. Yet these governors have deducted the consultancy fees from the refunds made to their states without paying the consultants.

“There is a case of state which got over N11billion. The governor of the affected state violated the agreement and paid only a pittance of N15million to the consultants.

“Some state governors did not engage consultants but they paid consultancy fees to themselves through their cronies.

“So far, about $350million is the accumulated consultancy fees. Despite the approval by the presidency NGF does not want $350million released to consultants at all.”

The source said: “One of the governors who diverted N500million out of the London-Paris Club refund was uncovered and he has lost the cash to the Federal Government.

“We have more instances. Some former governors, who had nothing to do with the refund, brought in consultants in order to benefit from the exercise.”

A government source said: “The position of the presidency is that the $350million out of about $2,689,279,365 final tranche of London-Paris Club refund should be paid to the consultants.

“In fact the presidency directed that the consultancy fees should be deducted and remitted into a dedicated in CBN.

“The governors are opposed to deduction from source. They said since the cash belongs to states, the presidency should leave governors to relate with their consultants. They also claimed that the presidency was never part of any agreement between states and consultants.”


Akeem ReachnaijaDecember 20, 2018
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2min80

Nigerians living in the United Kingdom sent £3.27 billion back home in 2017, according to a report by the World Bank.

A study researched by the bank has found that Nigeria was the top receiver of cash from the United Kingdom in 2017.

Nigeria was ranked the largest remittance recipient in sub-Saharan Africa and the sixth largest amongst lower-middle-income countries.

“Remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to grow by 9.8 percent from $41 billion in 2017 to $45 billion in 2018. Projections indicate that remittances to the region will keep increasing, but at a lower rate, to $47 billion by 2019,” the report read.

“The upward trend observed since 2016 is explained by strong economic conditions in the high-income economies where many sub-Saharan African migrants earn their incomes.

Largest remittance recipient country in Sub-Saharan Africa and the sixth largest among the Low, Middle income Countries (LMICs) is expected to receive more than $25 billion in official remittances by the end of 2018, an increase of more than $3 billion compared with the previous year.”

According to the Bretton Wood institution, the average cost of sending money to sub-Saharan Africa decreased slightly.

“The average cost of sending $200 to the Sub-Saharan Africa region slightly decreased, averaging 8.9 percent in 2018 Q3, the lowest cost ever registered in the region.

“A declining trend has been observed in remittance costs in the region since the beginning of 2018, but this average remains far above the global average of 6.9 percent and the SDG target of 3 percent by 2030. (NAN)


Akeem ReachnaijaDecember 20, 2018

3min40

Stock market indices were weakened on Wednesday as President Muhammadu Buhari presented his government’s budget estimate for the 2019 fiscal year.

In his budget christened Budget of Continuity, Mr Buhari, during the presentation to a joint session of the National Assembly, said a total of N8.83 trillion is expected to be used in the coming year.

In reaction, the stock market suffered a decline as a result of the losses posted by some large cap equities on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

The poor performances of Seplat, Dangote Cement and some other stocks dragged the market down by 0.35 percent, leaving the year-to-date loss at 19.71 percent.

While Seplat depreciated by N38.80 percent to settle at N555.20k per share, Total Nigeria went down by N3 to finish at N195 per share.

Also, Dangote Cement crashed by N3 to end at N186 per share, Mobil Oil Nigeria had its share value reduced by N2 to quote at N168 per share, while Julius Berger depreciated by 90 kobo to close at N20.10k per share.

On the flip side, Nestle Nigeria topped the gainers’ chart with N20 added to its share price to close at N1470 per share.

Forte Oil grew by N2.35k to end at N26.20k per share, while Nigerian Breweries appreciated by N1.80k to quote at N78.50k per share.

Furthermore, Stanbic IBTC went up by 45 kobo to close at N46 per share, while Flour Mills rose by 35 kobo to settle at N21.85k per share.

During trading yesterday, the volume of shares transacted reduced by 36.43 percent to 201 million units from 316.2 million units, while the value went down by 19.49 percent to N4.1 billion from N5.1 billion.

Zenith Bank dominated the activity chart on Wednesday with a turnover of 51.9 million shares transacted for N1.2 billion.

It was followed by Lafarge Africa, which sold 38.7 million units worth N457.3 million, and FBN Holdings, which transacted 15.9 million shares valued at N120.4 million.

GTBank exchanged 12.3 million equities for N427.6 million, while Fidelity Bank sold 9.6 million shares worth N18.4 million.

A look at the major market indices showed that the All-Share Index (ASI) declined by 109.21 points to settle at 30,704.98 points, while the market capitalisation went down by N39 billion to finish at N11.216 trillion.


Akeem ReachnaijaDecember 18, 2018
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4min40

Oil marketers yesterday confirmed receipt of N236 billion being first tranche payment of the outstanding N800 billion subsidy debt owed its members.

Executive Secretary of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) confirmed the development to Daily Sun in a telephone interview.

‘‘Yes, I can confirm to you that payment is ongoing. Some of our members have started receiving the promissory note for the payment of the subsidy arrears.”

The receipt of the N236 billion promissory note was equally corroborated by the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Downstream, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Ikem Obih.

Obi said the Federal Government in paying the first tranche of the debt through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had directed banks to freeze interest on loans related to the subsidy scheme.

“Yes, I can confirm that the promissory note has been issued; in fact, they were ready on Wednesday. The marketers got emails inviting them to come and receive them on Monday.

“By the end of Tuesday, they were actually ready from the Debt Management Office (DMO). We had a meeting with the CBN Governor on Thursday and they were informed officially that they should pick up the promissory notes; the Director General of DMO was there.

“Most of them were waiting for that meeting with the CBN governor; it went very well. One of the things that CBN governor has taken the initiative to do is to ask the banks to freeze the interest on any loan related to that scheme; the outstanding payment from end of June 2017 to date. Those are some of the additional concessions that government has done,’’ he said.

According to him, all the promissory notes for this first tranche will mature by 2019.

“The CBN governor will give the Liquid assets status; so, it is as good as cash,’’ he added.

But, Isong in admitting that the money has been paid through promissory notes, said he hopes the Federal Government implements the clause in the agreement that banks freeze interest on loans.

Commenting on petrol scarcity, he said at the moment, the country had in stock 2.7 billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) that would last for 54 days and still importing.

He noted that in terms of supply, NNPC was very robust and had never been this good in the least 10 years, at this time of the year.

“We are very good with distribution in terms of how much products is on land because 2.8 billion litres is what is between Lagos waters and land.

“Most tank farm cannot receive PMS at the moment; our vessels have to queue for days to be able to discharge to the storage.’’ He added

Also, petroleum products marketers had also confirmed receiving payment of N236 billion from the Federal Government for the first tranche of the outstanding fuel subsidy claims.

However, the Executive Secretary of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), Mr Olufemi Adewole, said, that oil marketers still needed clarifications as regards the payments made by the Federal Government.

“Yes, we collected promissory notes, but we need clarification. DAPPMAN chief executive officers are reviewing the total scenario and would meet with the Senate Committee, which has been of so much help to iron out things.”

He further confirmed that the payment was made via promissory notes, adding that DAPPMAN was already reviewing the situation.

He confirmed that the petroleum marketers would be meeting with the Senate Committee on Downstream to address other pending issues.


Akeem ReachnaijaDecember 14, 2018

5min20

The Senate Committee on Gas Resources and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Thursday says no 1.05 billion dollars is missing from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividend account. Chairman of the committee, Sen. Bassey Akpan, and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of NNPC, Mr Isiaka Abdulrazaq, stated this at a meeting between members of the committee and NNPC officials in Abuja.

Akpan and Abdulrazaq noted that contrary to media reports, the issue at stake is on the legality of the utilisation of the 1.05 billion dollars by the NNPC for importation of fuel, and not on whether or not the money is missing. The meeting was in continuation of investigation by the committee into the utilisation of the 1.05 billion dollars by the NNPC from the NLNG dividend fund to “augment under-recoveries” in fuel importation.

The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Maikanti Baru, confirmed the spending at a Senate hearing recently. Baru had said the NNPC took the action following the removal of fuel subsidy in 2016, and the resultant withdrawal of independent oil companies from importation of the product. He had said the withdrawal was in line with the NNPC Act which empowers the company to fund its operations from its revenue. But the lawmakers believe the NLNG dividend fund is revenue meant for the three tiers of government and thus the NNPC lacks powers to unilaterally draw from it. At Thursday’s meeting, Akpan said documents made available to the committee by the NNPC showed that another 1.05 billion dollars was transferred from the NLNG account. He asked why the NNPC vide a letter dated Nov. 30, 2016, authorised the CBN to transfer the money and for what purpose.

Responding, Abdulrazaq said the transaction was an internal entry of the CBN regarding the movement of the fund from one NLNG dividend account to another, and not payment to a third party. Throwing more light on the transaction, the Group Managing Director, Treasury, of the corporation, Mr Dapo Segun, said there are two NLNG dividend accounts. Segun identified the accounts as the NLNG Bank of International Settlement (BIS) Account and the NLNG Standard Chartered Bank Account. He said that following the adoption of the Treasury Single Account policy of the Federation Government, deposit money banks holding the NLNG dividend funds were directed to transfer them to the CBN. The CBN, according to him, told the NNPC that it had deposited the funds in the NLNG BIS Account, which he said was not operational.

Segun said the Nov. 30, 2016 memo cited by the Akpan simply asked the CBN to transfer the money from the BIS Account to the NLNG Standard Chartered Bank that was operational. “So, CBN did move the money pursuant to our instruction, and then subsequently, CBN reversed that transaction which was still between NLNG accounts. “So, the money never left the NLNG dividend account; it moved from one NLNG dividend account to another NLNG dividend account,” he said. After Segun’s clarification, Abdulrazaq told the senators that the CBN was in the right position to explain why it reversed the transfer from NLNG Standard Chartered Account to the BIS Account. He noted that the issues being discussed at the hearing bordered on the legality of the utilisation of the 1.05 billion dollars on fuel importation, and not on whether or not the money was missing. The NNPC CFO said the clarification became necessary following misleading reports in the media that the money was missing. Abdulrazaq said the reports were sending wrong signals about the government to its foreign partners and potential investors. At this point, the committee chairman pleaded with newsmen around to refrain from misrepresentation of facts and report the proceeding verbatim. Akpan said, “Please pressmen, nobody is saying that money is missing, I plead with you to report the outcome of this meeting verbatim. “We are only engaging the NNPC to understand the rudiments and dynamics of the NLNG dividend account,” he said.(NAN)


Akeem ReachnaijaDecember 14, 2018
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4min50

Sustained negative investors’ sentiment on the equity sector of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) yesterday dragged the All-share index further by 0.24 per cent.

At the close of trading yesterday, the All Share Index (ASI) shed 74.3 absolute points, representing a dip of 0.24 per cent to close at 30,568.05 points.

Similarly, the market capitalisation shed N27 billion at N11.166 trillion.

The downturn was impacted by losses recorded in medium and large capitalised stocks, amongst which are; Seplat Petroleum Development Company, Nestle Nigeria, Nascon Allied Industries, Stanbic IBTC Holdings and Flour Mills Nigeria.

Analysts at Afrinvest Limited said: “We expect the domestic bourse to recover from yesterday’s negative performance on the final trading session of the week, in line with the undulating trend recorded throughout the week.”

Also reacting to market performance yesterday, the Managing Director of Investdata Consulting Limited, Ambrose Omodion said; “We expect this volatility to be sustained as bargain hunting and portfolio repositioning for year-end to shape performance of the market ahead of Santa Claus rally, as number of companies hitting new 52-week low are on the increased to reflect undervalue state of the market.

“The ongoing volatility will persist as Q3 numbers assist investors and fund managers re-balance their portfolios, while watching the political space and ahead of full year company earnings position and post-election market dynamics.

“These are likely to drive prices north, or south, while determining market direction before or after the Presidential Election.
Investors should review their positions in line with their investment goals, strength of the company numbers and act as events unfold in the global and domestic environment.”

Market breadth closed slightly negative with 20 gainers against 21 losers.

John Holt and AXAMansard Insurance recorded the highest price gain of 10 per cent, each to close at 44 kobo and N1.98, respectively, Forte Oil followed with a gain of 9.79 per cent, to close at N24.10 per share.

Newrest ASL Nigeria appreciated by 9.52 per cent to close at N6.90, while Union Bank went up by 8.33 per cent to close at N5.85, per share.

On the other hand, United Capital led the losers’ chart by 9.86 per cent, to close at N2.56 per share.

Seplat followed with a decline 9.83 per cent to close at N540, while Cutix depreciated by 9.64 per cent to close at N1.78 per share.

DAAR Communications declined by 9.09 per cent to close at 40 kobo, while champion Breweries down by 8.62 per cent to close at N1.59, per share. Investors traded a total share volume of 193.25 million valued at N3.7 billion in 2,950 deals.

FBN Holdings traded with 25.29 million shares valued at N182.97 million.

Access Bank followed with 24.1 million shares worth N179.55 million, while Fidelity Bank traded 18.74 million shares valued at N36.7 million.

Zenith Bank traded 17.65 million shares valued at N406.64 million, while Guaranty Trust Bank transacted 15.8 million shares worth N552.56 million.


Akeem ReachnaijaDecember 10, 2018

2min50

PRESS RELEASE

EKSG lifts embargo on Ecobank, GTbank, Zenith Bank
…MDAs, workers now free to bank with all financial institutions

Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has lifted the embargo placed on some banks by the immediate past administration.

The Fayose-led administration had in May 2016 placed a “non-patronage” ban on three banks- Ecobank, GTbank and Zenith Bank Plc and forbade government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as workers from transacting business with them.

Governor Fayemi in quashing the directive on the embargo, earlier in the month, also directed that all MDAs should resume patronage of all the banks immediately.

Consequently, the office of the State’s Accountant General has issued a memo to all heads of MDAs to give effect to the Governor’s directive lifting the ban.

According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Yinka Oyebode, the embargo was lifted in a bid to rekindle and strengthen the age- long relationship between the affected banks and the State Government.

Government took the decision after a careful review of the developments that led to the purported embargo by the immediate past administration.

The Fayemi administration is committed to the infrastructural and industrial development of the state. In achieving this, it will create a conducive atmosphere for business to thrive in the state by partnering with the private sector and encouraging private initiatives, among others, the statement added.

Signed
Yinka Oyebode
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor.


Akeem ReachnaijaDecember 10, 2018
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3min20

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has maintained that its withdrawal of $1.05 billion from the NLNG Dividend Account was legal.The Senate is currently probing the action, which it claimed was done to support fuel consumption.

Though analysts have said the withdrawal to augment, what they alleged obscure subsidy regime, remained a critical challenge to the nation’s economy, NNPC’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Isiaka Abdulrazaq, however told reporters that extant laws were resorted to before the consummation of the deal.

According to him, the 2018 Appropriation Act defined revenue from NNPC as net of cost, indicating that the oil agency could defray the cost of its operations from earnings.He also cited the NLNG Act, which explicitly provides that the corporation could defray its cost from the dividends, as one of the legal grounds relied upon for the expenditure without recourse to appropriation by the National Assembly.

Abdulrazaq recalled the case instituted by some state governments in 1999 seeking the interpretation of revenue on account of their contention that all accruals from oil and gas operations amount to revenue and should be swept into the Federation Account.

The ruling by the Supreme Court in 2002, according to him, was in tandem with NNPC’s position that revenue is accruals of net of cost.His words: “We have provided the legal authority on which we rely to use funds from the NLNG Dividend Account to the Senate. We believe they will reason with us. But if need be, we will seek legal opinion.

“NNPC is very open and transparent. We publish our Monthly Financial and Operations reports in the media. No one does monthly reporting, not even the international oil companies or the publicly quoted companies. The best they do is quarterly reports.

“But we do monthly reports of revenue (profit and loss for the entire corporation, including the subsidiaries). We do operations report on how much oil and gas that were produced and sold.”The NNPC official noted that the money in question was channeled to three strategic infrastructure namely the Manbilla Hydro Power, second Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway projects.


Akeem ReachnaijaDecember 9, 2018
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5min10

The Federal government said oil marketers would be paid N236 billion out of N348 billion approved by the National Assembly as outstanding subsidy claims on Friday Dec. 14th.

The Chief Operating officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Downstream, Mr Henry Ikem-Obih disclosed this to newsmen in Abuja on Saturday.

“The Debt Management Office (DMO) will by next week, precisely on Dec. 14th, pay oil marketers first part of the subsidy arrears of N236 billion as agreed by both parties.

“We agreed that after the first tranche is paid, the marketers will form committee to work on details of how the next tranche will be paid in 2019 and the last paid in 2020.

“Government is fully committed to pay the first tranche as promised and will be paid through promissory note that will be issued by the DMO,’’ he said.

Ikem-Obih said that oil marketers equally owed government some debt which would not be deducted from the first tranche of payment.

He said that it was unfortunate that Depot and Petroleum Product Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) had issued a counter statement from what was agreed at the meeting held with all stakeholders on Thursday.

It will be recalled that stakeholders in the oil sector held a meeting at the ministry of Finance on Thursday and reached an agreement on how to pay outstanding subsidy claims to marketers.

DAPPMAN on Friday issued a counter statement saying that there was no agreement reached with government because it failed to reach legitimate demands of the association which was that the claims should be paid in cash instead of through the promissory notes.

He said that Independent Marketers Association, DAPPMAN, Major Oil Marketers (MOMAN), CBN, PPPRA, among others were part of the meeting.

“Government is committed to doing what we agreed on and that is why they get the first tranche by next week.

“We have told marketers that what government is doing now is honest and highly transparent,’’ he added.

Ikem-Obih urged Nigerians not to panic as the NNPC and all other stakeholders will ensure that there was no scarcity of the product throughout the yuletide season.

“Currently, we have 55 days of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) storage in the country which translates to 2.8 million litres in volume and 90,000 metric tonnes of diesel.

“The 90,000 metric tonnes is supplied by NNPC and it’s subsidiary PPMC and we will continue to import,’’ he added

He said that apart from imported products, the Warri refinery had on Thursday started refining products and the Port Harcourt Refinery would soon kick off refining.

This, he said would continue to boost the quantity of product in the country.

In an interview, some marketers who spoke to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) commended government and assured that they would support efforts towards ensuring smooth supply and distribution of petroleum products in the country.

Alhaji Aliyu Sa’id, Managing Director of AA Rano filling station said that national interest must be upheld and it would be wise for DAPMAN to give government a chance.

“We have enough products and we will not shut down for any reason, we do not want Nigerians to suffer during this period and that is why we are supporting government effort,’’ he said

Also, managing Director of AYM Shafa filling station, said that they would work to ensure that there was not scarcity of products in the country during the yuletide season.

“We will support government efforts to ensure smooth supply and distribution of products especially during the Christmas season,’’ he added.

NAN reports that other marketers who promised to ensure free flow of the product in the country include Obat oil PLC, ED Tonimas Nigeria Limited, among other. (NAN)


Akeem ReachnaijaDecember 5, 2018

6min00

For many Nigerians it has become the norm to get to the banking hall and hear “there is no network now you can only deposit” message, many approach ATMs of other banks with great caution and anxiety not knowing if they will get the Issuer or switch Inoperative message, or worse still get debited but not paid and then have to go through the hassles of filling forms and waiting for days or weeks for the money to reverse. In fact some have marked some ATMs notorious for debiting without payment and would never approach them even if you held a knife to their neck.

We have conditioned our minds to take all of these blunders, inefficiency, unprofessional conduct of bank staff who speak to customers as they like as normal when that should not be case. Today I tried withdrawing money from my account using my atm card at 3 Banks after standing in a long line for several minutes got the same message, Issuer Or Switch Inoperative. I tried withdrawing from these mobile pos vendors and the story was still the same so I embarked on a long journey to the nearest branch of my Bank(Polaris Bank) to withdraw cash from the banking hall only to meet scores of dejected looking people sprawled both in and outside the bank premises. Some were sitting and a lady was lying on the bare floor, on inquiry I learnt that since yesterday morning (Monday December 3rd) there has been no network to withdraw cash.

I was taken aback when a staff of the bank casually said we should wait and that by 1pm today if the situation persists they would resort to plan B. Time they say is money. People on their way to work will have to wait hours due to no fault of theirs except that they patronized a Bank to keep their money. Well some of us waited till 1pm to see what the plan B was. At 1pm we were all called into the banking hall and we were addressed to put it kindly, in a most unprofessional way by a man probably the branch manager and a lady. They apologized for the network failure and said it was being worked on and tried to justified it by saying that some other banks are currently having the same problem too.

To our horror they then said that that will take a risk and pay only those who opened their account at that particular branch and that others like me whose account were opened at other branches of the same bank(Polaris Bank) should find our way to the branch were our account is domiciled as they will not attend to us. When other customers who had been at the bank since 8am protested they threatened to throw us all out. From their tone it was as if they were doing us a favor, paying us money that we gave to them to keep for us.

Well I really don’t blame them, its the financial regulators, CBN in particular that I blame. Because if Small incidents of ATMs debiting you yet you don’t get cash are taken seriously, if online transactions that you will be debited and the receiver will not get the money for days and without even an apology from the erring institutions are promptly penalized these institutions will not take its customers for a ride.

An elderly woman who had not had breakfast was there in the banking hall till 1pm if she collapses there when she has money in her account to take care of her needs who will be held responsible. A girl who was to travel to Bauchi from Abuja was stranded with no hope in sight. Many business men like me who wanted to get money to run around and do some work were grounded after spending productive hours on end at the banking hall and yet got no money.

Nigeria When will we get it right. I hope someone up there will read this and do something to make our financial institutions work like their counterparts in other climes. Else we would have no other option than to return to the dark days of keeping money under our beds and take the risk of moving cash physically.