The Monetary Policy Committee of the CBN has kept the Monetary Policy Rate constant at 13.5 percent. Other parameters such as Cash Reserve Ratio, Liquidity Ratio, and asymmetric corridor were kept at 22.5%, 30% and +200/-500 basis points around the MPR, respectively. The Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, said this while reading the communique at the end of the two-day MPC meeting yesterday. He said the decision of the MPC to hold all rates was informed by the conviction of the committee members that key macroeconomic indicators are trending in the right direction and to sustain the improved growth in the Nigerian economy. While tightening might encourage capital flow, it also had downside consequences of tightening the already nascent recovery outlook growth, Emefiele said.
The FG has reaffirmed its commitment to keep Nigeria’s land border closed. Information minister, Lai Mohammed, implied that the 31 January 2020 deadline may be extended even as many critics continue to point to the rising cost of food staples in the country and the inability of many legal businesses to bring in raw materials or export finished goods. Lai Mohammed listed some of the positive results achieved thus far due to the border closure, in defence of the government’s decision. He said on the economic front, the partial closure had helped curb the smuggling of rice and other prohibited items resulting in increased production and milling as reported by the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria. He also explained that revenue accruing to the government has improved as importers now pass through legal procedures to ship in products through the seaports while diversion of imported petroleum products has been curbed. According to Lai Mohammed, the border closure has also had a significant impact on the security of the country, as about 95 percent of illegal weapons used in banditry, kidnapping and by Boko haram insurgents come through the border. He claimed the closure of the border has helped to significantly curb the influx of these illegal weapons noting that 296 illegal immigrants have been arrested while several materials for manufacturing explosives have been intercepted. He also said that Nigeria is currently working through every available diplomatic channel to engage neighbouring countries to comply with the ECOWAS protocol on transit. He noted that talks with these countries are producing results with Niger, for example, issuing circular banning exportation of rice in any form to Nigeria. He highlighted that several goods, such as poultry products and vegetable oil, which typically come in from these countries are on Nigeria’s prohibition list.
Seplat is set to complete its deal to acquire Eland Oil and Gas following the amicable resolution of issues raised by Starcrest Energy, a key stakeholder in Eland. Starcrest, a member of the Chrome Group of companies, had on 13 November issued caution on the proposed acquisition of Eland Oil and Gas by Seplat, which was announced on 15 October on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Starcrest said there were fundamental misrepresentations or material omissions in representation made by Eland and Seplat to the NSE and the respective shareholders. Among the issues raised in the warning notice by Starcrest Counsel, Ogochukwu Ifeoma Aniekwe, was that the acquisition, which was based on Seplat Petroleum owning a 45 per cent stake in an oil mining lease held by Eland Oil and Gas, “is not true as Eland is not the operator of the license as portrayed to the general public.” Sources familiar with the deal said that the Chairman of Starcrest, Emeka Offor, met in London recently with the CEO of Eland, George Maxwell and Chairman of Seplat, Bryant Orjiako, where the trio resolved the impasse, resulting in a favourable outcome for all parties. The meeting prompted Eland Oil & Gas shareholders to give overwhelming backing to the takeover of the Aberdeen-based firm. The boards of Eland and Seplat said that at the court-approved meeting and the general meeting held last week, which was convened in relation to the proposed scheme, all the proposed resolutions for the take-over were duly passed by the requisite majorities. The acquisition will boost Seplat’s production to 64,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day and propel it to becoming Nigeria’s biggest oil exploration and production company. The deal, according to industry experts, represents a big boost to the Nigerian Local Content Act which stipulates that Nigerian operators and indigenous service companies shall be given first consideration in the award of oil blocks, licences and works in the sector.
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has revealed that it is investigating a report that alleged that Turkey is supplying sophisticated weapons to Nigeria’s terror group, Boko Haram. Saying the reported supply of arms to Boko Haram by Turkey was a serious national security issue, Defence Headquarters spokesman, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, said the matter was receiving attention at a strategic level. On 1 October, an Egyptian media outlet, Ten.tv, reported that Turkey was a major supplier of arms to Boko Haram. This report was picked up by the Christian Broadcasting Network on 14 November. Ten.tv alleged that in 2014 or 2015, an Assistant Executive of the Turkish airline, Mehmet Karatas, told Mustafa Varank, an adviser to the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that he felt guilty over the national flag carrier’s arms shipment to Nigeria. Erdogan later dismissed the report as “vile.”