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Work rate at Lekki deep seaport excites Sanwo-Olu, 2023 delivery date affirmed

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Commercial operations at the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lekki FT Zone, Lagos, will begin by the first quarter of 2023, the investor, Tolaram Group, has said.

This emerged during a meeting of the group management team with the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who expressed excitement at the rate of work and commitment of the investor.

Indeed, the governor on Friday tweeted about this, expressing excitement, saying, “I was glad to hear from the Tolaram Group today, that commercial operations at the Lekki Deep Seaport in Lekki FT Zone will begin by the first quarter of 2023.”

The governor on Friday led members of the state’s cabinet on a two-day working tour of the three free trade zones established in Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos.

The port, which is being constructed by China Habour Engineering firm, is occupying 90 hectares in the entire 830 hectares of land carved out for the Lagos Free Zone, created in 2012 to enhance economic position of Lagos as manufacturing and logistics hub in West Africa.

The first phase of the seaport project, which is being financed by $629 million facility from China Development Bank (CDB), is at 48 per cent completion.

Sanwo-Olu said his administration remained committed to delivering the project, stressing that the deep seaport and other investments happening on the corridor had the potential to increase the state’s gross domestic product in multiple folds.

He said, “Given the report I got and what I have seen here, I can say that Lagos Free Zone has made tremendous improvement. We have seen the level of partnership Tolaram Group is bringing in terms of international investment and local brands on this corridor.

“I commend all stakeholders that are with us on this journey we have found ourselves. With the level of work we have seen, I’m truly excited. It is more gratifying that we are taking up this assignment with all energies required and we all can see what we can achieve when we work together.

“Since we signed a loan agreement less than 18 months ago, we have demonstrated strong capability in bringing the project to reality. This is the first quarter of 2021 and we have seen the project in about 48 per cent completion. The investors have given us the commitment on first quarter of 2023 completion date. We will fulfill all our parts to make sure this date becomes reality.”

Sanwo-Olu, who noted that he had been part of the conversation for the development of the free zones as Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in 2006, said his administration had recorded significant progress in bringing the projects to reality.

The governor said the priority accorded to the construction of complementary infrastructure projects along the corridor was a demonstration of his government’s fulfilment of its pledge to Lagos residents.

He promised the state would work with the timeline to ensure all projects mapped out in the zones were delivered right on time.

Sanwo-Olu said the size of the deep seaport would allow 18,000 TEU capacity vessels, which are four times bigger than the ones berthing at Apapa seaports, thereby scaling down the cost of container transportation from any part of the world.

He said, “The interesting part is that our youths and young women will be the beneficiaries of this project. The project managers have engaged large number of our citizens in the construction parts of the work; all personnel are not expatriates. All the technical work and technology deployed have local component to it.

“For us as a government, this is the strongest point we have made with the project. I am fully convinced that the delivery of this project will transform commercial architecture of West Africa and bring about quick turnaround time in maritime sector.”

Chief Executive Officer of Lagos Free Zone, Mr Dinesh Rathi, said Tolaram, a Singaporean firm, initiated a $2 billion investment in the Lagos Free Zone, out of which the investor committed $950 million to develop manufacturing hub in the zone.

He said, when completed, the deep seaport would generate more than 170,000 direct and indirect job opportunities for Lagos residents, and serve as alternative in an effort to decongest the Federal Government-owned seaports in Apapa.

Chairman of Lagos Free Zone Development Company, Mr Biodun Dabiri, hailed the state government for its commitment towards changing the face of commerce in Africa, stressing that all statutory permits, licences and endorsement for the Lekki port project were already secured.

“There is strong guarantee that the port will be delivered before time, going by the inflow of capital investment and technical services,” Dabiri said.

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I have sacks of new naira notes, says bandit, displays some in viral video

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As many Nigerians groan over inability to access funds from banks, a bandit kingpin terrorising communities in Kaduna has released a video clip showing off the redesigned naira notes.

In the video, Kachalla Baleri could be seen alongside some armed men displaying N1000 and N200 notes.

This is coming just as videos of some party goers spraying new naira notes are still trending.

The bandit kingpin who claimed to have used some of the new notes to buy ammunition said only God knows the amount of the new naira notes he has stored in sacks.

“We want to send a message to Nigerians, their leaders, and the masses, to be fair and just because of God and his holy prophet,” Baleri said.

“All the tribalism that is happening in the country will not solve anything unless things are done because of God.

“They (government) redesigned the naira, poor people who are innocent don’t even know about it. Some don’t even own up to N10,000. He has to wake up early in the morning to go and hustle.

“What of those who have millions in the cities? You see, it is between them. The money they are saying people are changing, we that are in the bush are changing it, some people who are in the cities haven’t even received it.

“But you see, the people they are referring to as terrorists have hold of the money. This is the new N1000 note, this is the new N200 note.

“We are just showing them a little out of what we have. We have plenty sacks of the new money and Only God knows the amount of the new notes that we have.”

A voice could be in the background of the video saying “I have N10 million at home”.

“We have bought ammunition that we will fight them (government), and we are waiting for what they will say next on the new naira notes,” Baleri added.

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BREAKING: CBN Issues fresh directive to banks on new naira notes

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed deposit money banks (DMBs) to commence the payment of the redesigned naira notes over the counter, subject to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000.

The directive is coming on the heels of business grinding to a halt over the scarcity of the redesigned notes, having deposited old notes with the commercial banks.

The CBN reiterated its commitment to Nigerians to ensure the effective distribution of the newly introduced naira banknotes, urging them to exercise patience as the CBN is working assiduously to address the challenge of queues at ATMs.

The statement which was signed by the Director Corporate Communication, Osita Nwanisobi, said the CBN observed with grave concern, the activities of persons who sell the newly redesigned banknotes and those who flagrantly abuse the legal tender by hurling wads of naira notes in the air and stamping on the currency at social functions.

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Nwanisobi said: “We have equally noticed the queues at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country and an upward trend in the cases of people stocking and aggregating the newly introduced banknotes they serially obtain from ATMs for reasons best known to them.

“Also worrisome are the reported cases of unregistered persons and non-bank officials swapping banknotes for members of the public, purportedly on behalf of the CBN.

“We wish to state unequivocally that, contrary to the practice of these unpatriotic persons, it is unlawful to sell the Naira, hurl (spray), or stamp on the currency under any circumstance whatsoever. “

The statement quited Section 21(4) which states that “It shall also be an offence punishable under
Sub-section (1) of this section for any person to hawk, sell or otherwise trade in
the Naira notes, coins or any other note issued by the Bank.”

Nwanisobi said the CBN is collaborating with the Nigeria Police, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to address the unpatriotic practice.

He warned Nigerians, particularly those at social functions such as birthdays, weddings and funerals, to desist from disrespecting the naira or risk being arrested by law enforcement agencies.

He also admonish members of the public to embrace and adopt other payment channels for their transactions.

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CBN governor, bank chiefs on a collision course over amount of new notes

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The cash crunch that hit most banks in the country since Monday, January 30, 2023 continued yesterday as banks said they had not been getting enough cash from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to disburse to their customers.

Consequently, the Association Senior Staff of Banks Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) has challenged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make public how much new naira notes it had pushed into circulation, even as it expressed worry over the scarcity of new and old naira notes in the country.

The president of ASSBIFI, Comrade Olusoji Oluwole, lamented that Nigerians are going through excruciating difficulties in order to feed and do business transactions because of the cash crunch brought by the policy. He called for a review of the policy in order to save Nigerians from further hardship.

Oluwole urged the CBN to publicly declare how much of the new Naira notes has been printed and distributed so far to banks for disbursement compared with what has been withdrawn from the public.

The ASSBIFI helmsman disclosed that its independent study showed that the volume of the new notes in circulation is highly insufficient and most of the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) have no new notes to dispense, while some of those dispensing are still paying out old notes.

“Nigerians have been reduced to moving from one ATM point to another in search of new Naira notes that should have been abundantly supplied. Pressure has been on bank workers who interface with the angry public in the process of depositing old or withdrawing the new notes, and we request urgent actions by the CBN to avoid attacks and other unruly actions against these bank workers as their safety and health are of great concern to the union to us in ASSBIFI,” Oluwole said.

A banker who craved anonymity said addressing the scarcity of cash is something that only the CBN can do, even as he said there ought to be discussions between the CBN and the committee of bank chief executives on how to address the ongoing scenario.

“The CBN should know what our requirements are, they should know what we require and how much will serve our customers. A bank that has over 300 branches and the CBN is giving them only N350 million; that means N1 million per branch. How do we deal with this?

The cash crunch that hit most banks in the country since Monday, January 30, 2023 continued yesterday as banks said they have not been getting enough cash from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to disburse to their customers.

Consequently, the Association Senior Staff of Banks Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) has challenged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make public how much new Naira notes it had pushed into circulation, even as it expressed worry over the scarcity of new and old Naira notes in the country.

The president of ASSBIFI, Comrade Olusoji Oluwole, lamented that Nigerians are going through excruciating difficulties in order to feed and do business transactions because of the cash crunch brought by the policy. He called for a review of the policy in order to save Nigerians from further hardship.

Oluwole urged the CBN to publicly declare how much of the new Naira notes has been printed and distributed so far to banks for disbursement compared with what has been withdrawn from the public.

The ASSBIFI helmsman disclosed that its independent study showed that the volume of the new notes in circulation is highly insufficient and most of the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) have no new notes to dispense, while some of those dispensing are still paying out old notes.

“Nigerians have been reduced to moving from one ATM point to another in search of new Naira notes that should have been abundantly supplied. Pressure has been on bank workers who interface with the angry public in the process of depositing old or withdrawing the new notes, and we request urgent actions by the CBN to avoid attacks and other unruly actions against these bank workers as their safety and health are of great concern to the union to us in ASSBIFI,” Oluwole said.

A banker who craved anonymity said addressing the scarcity of cash is something that only the CBN can do, even as he said there ought to be discussions between the CBN and the committee of bank chief executives on how to address the ongoing scenario.

“The CBN should know what our requirements are, they should know what we require and how much will serve our customers. A bank that has over 300 branches and the CBN is giving them only N350 million; that means N1 million per branch. How do we deal with this?

“We can’t even pay with the old note and we don’t have the new notes. The new trend is that, because banks don’t want to get in trouble, they are paying customers in N100 and N20 notes. And that is because they don’t want more problems. Customers are protesting that they want their money and since the lower denominations are still legal tender, banks are paying with them.

“There is a shortage of cash everywhere. We did not envisage what is happening now. The only place where a solution can come is from CBN. The CBN should release more cash, and at the CEO level, there should be engagements with CBN on this,” the banker stated.

The president, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has attributed the current scarcity of old/new Naira notes coupled with fuel scarcity and hike in pump prices to systemic failure and corruption.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP in Lagos yesterday, Wabba said: “Millions of man-hours are lost with many people now rendered unproductive by scarcity of old, new Naira notes while people now spend hours on queue for fuel in a society blessed with abundant human and natural resources.

“The unbanked people living in rural areas and marketers are feeling the pain more as they don’t have any other means of survival. There are no old and new maira notes for people to transact business. Why the haste in implementation of Naira redesign which could have been allowed to flow side by side for months before old notes are eventually mopped up.”

Nationwide, bank tellers have been turning customers away as they say there is no cash to pay them, and queues at the few Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) that are paying cash are growing longer.

Ngozi, a trader who sells electrical materials alongside her husband in Lagos said she is already running low on cash and does not know if she will be able to open her shop by the end of the week if the cash crunch continues.

“All the people that have been patronising my shop have been doing transfers which even misbehaves. I went to the bank to collect cash so that we can have money to run around and I was told that I can only get N2000. I have money in the bank and I can’t take it. It is very frustrating,” she said.

The cash crunch that hit most banks in the country since Monday, January 30, 2023 continued yesterday as banks said they have not been getting enough cash from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to disburse to their customers.

Consequently, the Association Senior Staff of Banks Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) has challenged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to make public how much new Naira notes it had pushed into circulation, even as it expressed worry over the scarcity of new and old Naira notes in the country.

The president of ASSBIFI, Comrade Olusoji Oluwole, lamented that Nigerians are going through excruciating difficulties in order to feed and do business transactions because of the cash crunch brought by the policy. He called for a review of the policy in order to save Nigerians from further hardship.

Oluwole urged the CBN to publicly declare how much of the new Naira notes has been printed and distributed so far to banks for disbursement compared with what has been withdrawn from the public.

The ASSBIFI helmsman disclosed that its independent study showed that the volume of the new notes in circulation is highly insufficient and most of the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) have no new notes to dispense, while some of those dispensing are still paying out old notes.

“Nigerians have been reduced to moving from one ATM point to another in search of new Naira notes that should have been abundantly supplied. Pressure has been on bank workers who interface with the angry public in the process of depositing old or withdrawing the new notes, and we request urgent actions by the CBN to avoid attacks and other unruly actions against these bank workers as their safety and health are of great concern to the union to us in ASSBIFI,” Oluwole said.

A banker who craved anonymity said addressing the scarcity of cash is something that only the CBN can do, even as he said there ought to be discussions between the CBN and the committee of bank chief executives on how to address the ongoing scenario.

“The CBN should know what our requirements are, they should know what we require and how much will serve our customers. A bank that has over 300 branches and the CBN is giving them only N350 million; that means N1 million per branch. How do we deal with this?

“We can’t even pay with the old note and we don’t have the new notes. The new trend is that, because banks don’t want to get in trouble, they are paying customers in N100 and N20 notes. And that is because they don’t want more problems. Customers are protesting that they want their money and since the lower denominations are still legal tender, banks are paying with them.

“There is a shortage of cash everywhere. We did not envisage what is happening now. The only place where a solution can come is from CBN. The CBN should release more cash, and at the CEO level, there should be engagements with CBN on this,” the banker stated.

The president, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has attributed the current scarcity of old/new Naira notes coupled with fuel scarcity and hike in pump prices to systemic failure and corruption.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP in Lagos yesterday, Wabba said: “Millions of man-hours are lost with many people now rendered unproductive by scarcity of old, new Naira notes while people now spend hours on queue for fuel in a society blessed with abundant human and natural resources.

“The unbanked people living in rural areas and marketers are feeling the pain more as they don’t have any other means of survival. There are no old and new maira notes for people to transact business. Why the haste in implementation of Naira redesign which could have been allowed to flow side by side for months before old notes are eventually mopped up.”

Nationwide, bank tellers have been turning customers away as they say there is no cash to pay them, and queues at the few Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) that are paying cash are growing longer.

Ngozi, a trader who sells electrical materials alongside her husband in Lagos said she is already running low on cash and does not know if she will be able to open her shop by the end of the week if the cash crunch continues.

“All the people that have been patronising my shop have been doing transfers which even misbehaves. I went to the bank to collect cash so that we can have money to run around and I was told that I can only get N2000. I have money in the bank and I can’t take it. It is very frustrating,” she said.

A roadside fruit seller said all her regular customers have been paying her with transfers and the few who are paying cash have paid with the new notes.

“All the transfers that my customers did yesterday, I am yet to get the alert but since they are my regulars, I am not so worried. This scarcity of cash has to end soon”, she said.

A business woman in Lagos, Mrs Kome Enobong, told LEADERSHIP that she left her home as early as 7am to her bank to withdraw some of the funds in her account, only to be told that there is no money to give to her.

“I have visited three Union Bank branches, but I couldn’t withdraw my money. I was told that there is no money in the bank to give to me. This is my money that I have worked for. The ATMs are not dispensing cash either. How am I going to feed my children, because right now, I don’t even have money on me?,” Mrs Enobong lamented.

A teacher, Mr James Niyi who also shared his ordeal with LEADERSHIP, said, “I cannot withdraw my own hard earned money from my bank. I had to use POS, where I spent N1,000 to get N10,000. This is really pathetic,” Niyi said, calling on CBN to intervene.

A POS operator, Mr Okanlawon noted that, they have not been able to do business as usual as there is no cash to give to customers who continue to throng his shop in search of cash. “My customers have been begging me for cash but what can I do if I don’t have the cash to give them? If this continues, I hope that people don’t take to the streets to riot over scarcity of cash.”

As of yesterday, some POS operators were charging N1,500 for N10,000 withdrawals while some were charging N1,000.

Mrs Akin, a civil servant, said after lots of begging and shouting in the bank, she was able to get N5,000, paid in N5 notes.

LEADERSHIP had, on Tuesday, reported that business activities were paralysed in Lagos State as bank customers queued for long hours at Automated Teller Machine (ATM) terminals across Lagos State to withdraw cash.

Similarly, electronic banking transfer through the mobile app, or USSD code, as well as Point of Sales (POS) machines network were extremely poor as people could not pay for services rendered through the electronic banking system.

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