Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has said his administration has raised 50,000 hybrid Cocoa seedlings, which will be distributed to farmers at affordable prices once they mature in 18 months.
“This is being done with a view to ensuring the prompt and effective rehabilitation and regeneration of the aged Cocoa plantations or farms existing in the State,” Governor AbdulRazaq disclosed at the recent Cocoa Farmers’ Roundtable Conference held at Cocoa House, Oke Onigbin, in Isin Local Government Area of the State.
Represented by the State Commissioner for Agricultural and Rural Development, Mrs Adenike Afolabi-Oshatimehin, AbdulRazaq said the government would establish a Cocoa nursery in the State to serve as the genuine source of planting materials for the farmers.
“In this fiscal year, we plan to resuscitate the training and retraining of cocoa farmers on good agricultural practices through the Farmers Field School (FFS) and Farmers Business School (FBS) respectively. This is being done with a view to enhancing the quality of the cocoa beans being produced in the State. In addition, we also intend to look into prospects of being able to possibly address extant challenges associated with some of the critical input requirements of cocoa farmers in the state,” he added.
Governor AbdulRazaq explained that the present administration understands that lack of basic social amenities, physical infrastructure, et al, could constitute disincentives for farming in agrarian communities in the State, saying “it is for this reason and more that we are committing significant resources to road construction, healthcare, water and basic education in the 2020 budget, which has just been passed and assented to.”
“Agriculture occupies a vantage position under this administration. We have invested a lot of money to reposition the sector, beginning with the N200m counterpart fund for RAAMP III and another N49.78m FADAMA counterpart fund, among others. We have also made appreciable budgetary provisions for agriculture this year, while also engaging the Federal Government and private investors on how to grow the sector in the State.”
He assured the farmers that the administration remains firmly committed to rebuilding and reconstructing the state for the good of all and for the benefit of children yet unborn.
“Since we came on board, our administration has given so much attention to Cocoa because of its extensive value chain — just as we are doing with sugarcane and other essential crops and agricultural produce that can be successfully cultivated in the State,” he said.
“Kwara is currently grouped as a minor Cocoa state in Nigeria, owing in part to the perennial migration of cocoa farmers to other states and the seemingly unabated trend of rural-urban migration. This is a narrative that we want to change and as soon as possible.”
AbdulRazaq also congratulated the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) for the event which he said was designed to discuss the way to reposition the Cocoa subsector in Kwara State and other parts of Nigeria, where cocoa could be grown successfully.
He assured the farmers that the administration would work with them to develop the cocoa subsector in the State.
Yusuf Ganiyu Adebisi
Kwara State Ministry of Agric and Rural Development
6th February 2020.
Zenith Bank records over N208bn in PAT
In a clear demonstration of of its resilience and market leadership, Zenith Bank has announced an impressive result for the year ended December 31, 2019, with profit after tax (PAT) of N208.8 billion, achieving the feat as the first Nigerian bank to cross the N200 billion mark.
According to the bank’s audited financial results for the 2019 financial year released in Lagos at the weekend, profit after tax rose by 8 per cent to N208.8 billion from the N193 billion recorded in the previous year.
The Group also recorded a growth in gross earnings of 5 per cent, rising to N662.3 billion from N630.3 billion reported in the previous year. The growth was driven by a 29 per cent increase in non-interest income from N179.9 billion in 2018 to N231.1 billion in 2019. This was as fees on electronic products continued to grow significantly with a 108 per cent Year on Year (YoY) growth from N20.4 billion in 2018 to N42.5 billion in the current year, and standing as a validation of the bank’s retail transformation strategy which continues to deliver impressive results.
Profit before tax also increased by 5 per cent from N232 billion to N243 billion in the current year, arising from topline growth and continued focus on cost optimisation strategies. Cost-to-income ratio moderated from 49.3 per cent to 48.8 per cent.
The drive for cheaper retail deposits coupled with the low interest yield environment helped reduce the cost of funding from 3.1 per cent to 3.0 per cent. However this also affected net interest margin which reduced from 8.9 per cent to 8.2 per cent in the current year due to re-pricing of interest bearing assets. Although returns on equity and assets held steady YoY at 23.8 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively, the Group still delivered an improved Earnings per Share (EPS) which grew 8 per cent from N6.15 to N6.65 in the current year.
The Group also increased its share of the markethaving secured increased customer deposits across the corporate and retail space as deposits grew by 15 per cent to close at N4.26 trillion. Total assets also increased by 7 per cent from N5.96 trillion to N6.35 trillion. The Group created new viable risk assets as gross loans grew by 22 per cent from N2.016 trillion to N2.462 trillion. This was executed prudently at a low cost of risk of 1.1 per cent and a significant reduction in the non-performing loan ratio from 4.98 per cent to 4.30 per cent. Prudential ratios such as liquidity and capital adequacy ratios also remained above regulatory thresholds at 57.3 per cent and 22.0 per cent respectively.
In demonstration of its commitment to its shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend pay-out of N2.50 per share, bringing the total dividend to N2.80 per share.
In 2020, the Group remains strategically positioned to capture the opportunities in the corporate and retail segments, while efficiently managing costs and expanding further its retail franchise by employing digital assets and innovation.
Consistent with this superlative performance and in recognition of its track record of excellent performance, Zenith Bank was voted as the Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria 2019 by the World Finance and the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria 2019 by The Banker.
Ecobank Nigeria to host Regional Trade Forum 2020
Ecobank Nigeria is set to host its 2020 Regional Trade Forum in Lagos.
It gathered that the forum taking place in March, will be a two-day event, providing the opportunity for exporters and importers within the African region to exhibit their products in a marketplace scenario with panel discussions by highly experienced and diversified stakeholders and leaders of thought in the industry.
Ecobank Nigeria is a member of the pan African banking group with unparalleled Africa wide Network Advantage across 33 countries catering for businesses and providing world class trade services to its customers. The Ecobank Group network has over 30 years been enhancing the financial integration of the continent. The Group provides solutions to facilitate trade in the various trade corridors and groupings across Africa
Announcing the Trade Forum in Lagos, Sunday Abah, Head Trade Finance of Ecobank Nigeria said Ecobank is using the forum to unveil its comprehensive trade solutions to its existing and prospective customers alike by sharing the various payment methods available to facilitate cross border trade throughout its network across Africa. According to him, Ecobank recognizes the role of exporters and importers in driving economies through trade.
“By creating a networking forum for importers and exporters via the trade exhibition slated for the first day of the forum, the Bank extends support to stakeholders in export and import businesses.
“Ecobank’s trade products and solutions are designed around two broad areas: Trade finance which enables customers benefit from adequate and well mitigated credit facilitation in the area of Import finance, export finance, bill discounting, trade loans, distributor finance, structured trade and commodity finance amongst others; also we do Trade Services, which gives our customers the advantage of speedy turnaround time and error free processing of Import Letters of Credit, Import collections, Customs bonds, Export collections and regional trade services amongst others,” he noted.
Ecobank’s unique intra-Africa trade solutions enable settlements of trade transactions and mitigation of payment risk; provide regional solutions and enable exporters obtain payment guarantees without the need for a letter of credit and its related costs to the importer. Ecobank works closely with clients in reviewing key factors regarding transactions processing, settlements, financing, and risk mitigation as well as credit enhancement. The bank boasts of a unique and large Pan-African platform that positions it to support trade at all levels. Its technology platform is designed to help unlock the opportunities of the continent through standardization across 33 countries, while fueling regional integration, trade and investment across borders.
The Ecobank Africa Trade Forum is expected to attract hundreds of guests and participants. Leaders from across Ecobank Group will also be attending to share their market specific trade knowledge and information.
Banker, Wife Arraigned Over Fraud
A former senior staff of Sterling Bank has been arraigned for allegedly cooking the books to inflate bonuses for his wife in a marketing scheme arranged by the bank for relations and friends to draw accounts and funds to the bank.
Akinwole Dosunmu who coordinated the scheme at Sterling Bank is accused of inflating bonuses for his wife at the expense of those who genuinely drew in the accounts with undeserved bonuses reaching N2.74 million.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, arraigned Akinwole alongside his wife, Motunrayo Olanike Dosunmu before Justice Ladiran Akintola of the Oyo State High Court, Ibadan.
The couple was accused of stealing the sum from the Sterling Bank Plc. Akinwole was an employee of the bank, while his wife was a customer and a beneficiary in the bank’s Third Party Acquirer Scheme.
The bank had initiated the scheme as a marketing strategy through which relatives and friends of their marketing agents were awarded commission for bringing new customers to open and operate new accounts with the bank. Akinwole, also a marketer with the bank, was appointed to coordinate the scheme.
Apart from the commission on account opening, the referral also enjoys certain percentage on the saving made through the accounts every month.
It was, however, alleged that while reviewing activities under the scheme in 2016, the bank discovered that most of the accounts appropriated to Motunrayo as a third-party acquirer were fraudulently tagged to her by her husband.
The investigation allegedly further revealed that the accounts were never sourced by neither of the couple, but by other third-party agents.
According to the petition filed by the bank, the couple had benefited a total of N2, 740,300.9292 as ommission fraudulently paid to Motunrayo through the scheme.
It was on account of the allegation and further investigations by the EFCC that the couple was arraigned on a 16-count charge of stealing on Tuesday.
The offence is contrary to Section 390 (9) of the Criminal Code Laws CAP 38, Laws of Oyo State, 2000.
In view of their plea, counsel to the EFCC, Ifeanyi Agwu, applied for a date for trial and for the defendants to be remanded in the custody of Nigerian Correctional Service.
However, the defence counsel, J. B. Olaoye, informed the court that he has filed applications for bail on behalf of the accused persons.
Justice Akintola adjourned the matter till Friday, February 21, 2020, for hearing of the bail applications and ordered that the defendants be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Agodi, Ibadan.
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