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Abia Govt to establish innovation park – Commissioner



Alex Otti

Mr Okey Kanu, the Abia Commissioner for Information and Culture, says plans are underway to establish an “Innovation Park” to accelerate socio-economic development in the state.

Kanu disclosed this during a news conference on the outcome of the State Executive Council at the Government House, Umuahia.

He said that the decision to embark on the project was informed by the resolve of Gov. Alex Otti to fulfill his campaign promises to the people of Abia.

Kanu said the initiative would provide an avenue for the state government to address the issue of youth unemployment in Abia.

“A lot of investors are showing strong interest to partner with government to establish the Innovation Park.

“The park will house an incubation centre.

“Those involved in manufacturing, logistics, power, modular refinery will form part of this park,” he said.

On payment of pensions in the state, he said that the government was committed to resolving all hitches in the payment.

Kanu added that thr state government was making serious efforts to ensure payment of 100 per cent pension to pensioners.

He, however, apologised to pensioners over the shortfall in the June payment and attributed the shortfall to the historical method adopted by the past administration.

Kanu said the method was being reviewed to ensure that pensioners would be paid 100 per cent of their pension and subsequently their outstanding before the end of the year.

On environment, Kanu said that in line with the rebuilding agenda of the present administration, the government would commence a “Clean Abia Programme” aimed at improving the cleanliness of the state.

He said that the government was focused on encouraging the people of Abia to imbibe the culture of keeping their surrounding clean and actively participating in the monthly clean-up exercise observed in the state.

The Commissioner for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Prof. Joel Ogbonna, said that efforts were being made to rehabilitate the road leading to Osisioma Depot to make the facility functional and accessible to oil marketers.

Ogbonna said that the state government was making efforts to effect repairs on the vandalised Port Harcourt-Osisioma pipeline damaged by suspected vandals.

He said the ministry would set up an effective monitoring team to ensure that filling stations provide the public with good quality product.

Ogbonna added that plans were underway to set up a modular refinery in Ukwa West through Public-Private Partnership as part of government’s efforts to address the issue of high cost of petroleum products.

Also, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Reduction, Mrs Ngozi Felix, said the ministry would hold the annual Abia Women Delegates Conference (AWADEC) on August 13.

Felix said that the conference would be attended by over 2,000 participants from across the three senatorial zones of the state who would be trained in different areas of life and in turn would go back to teach women in the various local communities.

She added that the event would feature empowerment of vulnerable groups, widows and physically challenge persons.

Felix said that plans were in top gear to establish a Sexual Assault and Refferal Centre to take care of victims of sexual assault and other violent acts in the state.


Job Losses, Factory Closures Loom As Unsold Goods Pile Up — MAN



AGAINST the backdrop of sustained pressure in the foreign exchange market and high cost of production, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN has indicated that inventory of unsold goods is escalating to levels now threatening the existence of companies operating in the production sector of the economy with attendant job losses.

Findings show that as of the weekend the foreign exchange market had recorded over 254 per cent plunge in the value of the naira since flotation of the currency by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2023.

Recall that the naira traded for N471 per dollar in the official I&E market on June 13, 2023 before the floatation of the currency, but exchanged for N1,665.50 to a dollar as at February 23, 2024 on the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM), indicating a depreciation of more than 253.6 per cent over the eight-month period. The forex crisis is also stoking inflation, and coupled with high energy costs, purchasing power has continued plummet, stifling demand for goods.

Speaking on the impact of this development on the manufacturing sector, Director General, MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said: “There are reports that across the board, many warehouses and plants of many manufacturing firms are stockpiled with unsold goods manufactured last year. “The development is as a result of the devastating effects of the exchange rate crisis, inflation, fake and sub-standard goods, smuggling and other macro-economics challenges.”

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CBN Lifts Ban On BDCs, Introduces New Operational Mechanism



In a major development aimed at financial stability and strengthening the naira, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to resume its weekly intervention in the country’s foreign exchange (FX) market through the Bureau de Change (BDC) operators.

In 2021, the central bank, in a bid to achieve its mandate of safeguarding the value of the local currency, ensuring financial system stability, and shoring up external reserves, announced the immediate discontinuance of foreign currency sales to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in the country.

However, the resumed intervention, which would reportedly commence today for funding as well as Tuesday for collection, will see the apex bank inject FX into the subsector in a bid to rescue the naira from further depreciation against major currencies, particularly the US Dollar. The collection will be at designated CBN branches in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Awka, while details of the naira accounts to be credited for funding bidding will also be made available today.

CBN is also expected to publish the list of eligible BDCs to benefit from its funding using certain compliance criteria.National Executive Council of Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) hinted on the latest developments through a memo to its members over the weekend.

The association also warned members that it will no longer be business as usual under the new supervisory regime of the central bank, as any infringement or infraction would result in outright revocation of license and prosecution.

ABCON said through the association’s various engagements with the central bank, in conjunction with ABCON’s strategic partners, CBN had agreed to its request, under the bank’s supervision, to inject liquidity into the market through a weekly intervention beginning today.

CBN assured ABCON that the new circular on the Revised Regulatory and Supervisory Guidelines to BDCs, which was introduced over the weekend, was only a draft exposure that required the association’s inputs before the release of the final guidelines by the apex bank.

To that effect, the letters of the guidelines were not cast in stone, the association’s leadership told its members, who had been worried over the sweeping reforms in the document, which, among other things, prescribed N2 billion and N500 million minimum capital for national and state BDCs, respectively.

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