The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has pulled out of a roundtable to discuss security matters in Nigeria. In a letter co-signed by Edwin Clark, Pan-Niger Delta Forum leader; Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere leader; Nnia Nwodo, leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and Pogu Bitrus, leader of the Middle Belt Forum; the forum cited the invitation of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria by the organisers of the programme as one of the reasons for their withdrawal. The roundtable scheduled to hold from yesterday to today in Minna, Niger State, is being hosted by Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former military head of state and expected to proffer the way forward for the country’s numerous security challenges. The roundtable will have in attendance all the national security heads, chief of defence staff and notable Nigerians. The SMBLF said they were not comfortable that Gan Allah Fulani Development Association and MACBAN are on the list to attend the roundtable, especially as the first group is unknown to them, and, the lumping of Miyetti Allah, a trade association for cattle herders and whose members have been accused of various violations of rights, including life, across the country. The leaders also said it would have been inappropriate consider nationality organisations in the same vehicle with “trade group as there are organisations for fishermen, farmers, poultry owners and spare parts dealers across the country like such who were not invited”.

Data from the Nigerian Stock Exchange showed that foreign portfolio investors have withdrawn a total of ₦1.87 trillion in four years, since June 2015. The NSE report said the investors withdrew ₦163.77 billion after President Buhari’s re-election in February 2019. 2018, according to the analysis of the data, saw the highest withdrawals of the FPIs in four years as the investors withdrew ₦642.65 billion. Analysts at the United Capital have described the delayed policy formulation and cabinet formation by Buhari as a risk to capital inflow to the country, noting that in the absence of profound changes in the policy environment, only the FPIs in search of cheap naira assets would dominate capital importation into the county, while Foreign Direct Investment remains on the sidelines. Across the three components of capital imported, the FPIs accounted for the bulk of expansion. According to the NSE report, in the H2 2015, the first six months of Buhari’s tenure, the FPIs withdrew ₦277.63 billion, the highest being in July, when they withdrew ₦58.83 billion. In 2016, the FPIs withdrew ₦261.03 billion; ₦435.31 billion in 2017 and ₦642.65 billion in 2018. In the H1 2019, the foreign investors withdrew ₦257.81 billion, bringing the total withdrawals under the Buhari’s administration to ₦1.87 trillion.

President Buhari has approved the establishment of a committee for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. The National Action Committee will be comprised of representatives of ministries and agencies with competent and relevant jurisdiction, and selected stakeholder groups from the private sector and the civil society to coordinate the implementation of all the AfCFTA readiness interventions. Upon inauguration, the NAC will undertake a process of engagement with stakeholders to sensitize them on the opportunities and challenges of the AfCFTA, with preparedness plans for the Nigerian economy. Upon ratification, it will domesticate the agreement by incorporating it into existing laws or enacting new laws, as appropriate. The engagement will start with the Ninth National Assembly.

Investors could pay about ₦2.5 billion yearly as additional costs on transactions, following the FG’s resumption of VAT collection on stock market transactions. Investors would pay an average of ₦2.49 billion yearly or ₦207 million monthly, based on transactions in the past two years. The FG failed to renew a five-year VAT exemption granted to the local market, which expired on 24 July 2019. Thus the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Central Securities Clearing System and stockbroking firms added VAT to charges on transactions from 25 July. The addition of VAT to market charges increased total costs of transactions-on the buy and sell sides from 3.75 percent on 24 July to 3.915 percent the next day. The CSCS, the clearinghouse for the stock market, automatically deducts VAT on commissions payable to it and the NSE while operators use preconfigured software. With the re-imposition of the 5% VAT, the commission payable to stockbrokers increased from 1.35% per transaction to 1.4175%. The commission payable to the NSE also increased from 0.3% to 0.315%, while the commission payable to the CSCS increased from 0.36% to 0.378%. Besides, investors will pay a stamp duty of 0.075% on each transaction. The NSE and CSCS only receive commissions on sale transactions while operators charge commissions on both sell and buy transactions. The government charges Stamp Duty and VAT on commissions on both sell and buy transactions. A breakdown of the total costs per transaction indicated that total costs on buy-side have increased from 1.7250% as at 24 July to 1.7925% by 25 July, while total costs on the sell-side have increased from 2.025% to 2.1225%.