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Stock market continues bearish trend

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The stock market continued its bearish trend as the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index fell 0.78 per cent to close lower at 30,400.28 yesterday. Similarly, the market capitalisation shed N89 billion to close at N11.3 trillion, following losses by 24 equities as against the gain by only 14 stocks.

Although notable stocks such as Nestle Nigeria Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Forte Oil Plc were among the losers, NEM Insurance Plc and Resort Savings and Loans Plc led the bears with 10 per cent apiece.

MRS Oil Nigeria Plc and UAC of Nigeria Plc went down by 9.9 per cent, just as Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc and Ikeja Hotel Plc shed 9.8 per cent 9.0 per cent in that order among others.

Commenting on the market performance, analysts at Cordros Capital Limited reiterated their negative outlook for the market in the short to medium term, amidst political concerns ahead of the 2019 elections, and the absence of a positive market trigger.

“However, positive macroeconomic fundamentals remain supportive of recovery in the long term,” they said.

Meanwhile, Diamond Bank Plc returning to its gaining streak after a short period of profit taking by investors. The stock led the price gainers with 10 per cent. Also, WAPIC Insurance Plc went up by 10 per cent, just as A.G Leventis Plc added 7.4 per cent.

Diamond Bank Plc has become investors’ toast since the announcement of its merger with Access Bank Plc.

Some market analysts said the deal favours Diamond Bank and investors having bought the shares as a way of entering Access Bank Plc, which shares are higher in price.

The Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie, had the combination with Access Bank would create one of Africa’s leading financial institutions.

He said: “There is a clear strategic rationale for the proposed merger and strong complementarities between the two institutions. While Diamond Bank has pioneered Nigeria’s largest technology led retail banking platform, Access Bank is one of Nigeria’s leading full-service commercial banks. Consolidation in the Nigerian banking industry is an inevitable, natural progression in a sector where the gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2 banks has been widening and scale has become critical; where technology will disrupt the traditional business model while enabling broader financial inclusion.

The board of Diamond Bank believes that the proposed combination of the two operations provides an exciting prospect for all stakeholders in both businesses and will create a financial institution with the scale, strength and expertise to capitalise on the significant opportunities in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa more broadly.”

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National News

NLC reacts to N27,000 minimum wage approval

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The Nigeria Labour Congress has rejected the N27,000 new national minimum wage adopted by the National Council of States on Tuesday.

The NLC Secretary-General, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

According to him, the council has no jurisdiction determining another amount after a Tripartite Committee had submitted its report.

“It is abysmal of government to be delaying the submission of an Executive Bill to the National Assembly and by wrongfully adopting N27,000 through the council of states,” he said.

However, Ozo-Eson said the NLC has scheduled an emergency National Executive Council meeting for Friday to weigh on the deadline given to government within which to submit an executive bill to the National Assembly.

The NLC scribe added that the Federal Government was only projecting a shutdown of the economy with its latest action.

“This is because workers should not be held responsible for any development after its NEC meeting on Friday,’’ he said.

(NAN)

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Money

Ambode fails to present 2019 budget again

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The Lagos State House of Assembly yesterday rejected the request of the state governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, to formally present the 2019 appropriation bill valued at N852.317 billion.

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi-Ambode

Contrary to the position of the office of the Chief Press Secretary to the governor that the 2019 budget would be presented yesterday, the request was not listed as part of the agenda of the state House of Assembly for the day.

It was revealed that Ambode had since last week contacted the state assembly that he was ready to present the 2019 budget, though it was not clear if the assembly agreed to the governor’s request to present the budget yesterday.

Based on the invitation to journalists for the budget presentation, the state house correspondents trooped to the state assembly for the exercise.

However, the correspondents were denied access to the legislative chambers, the venue of the budget presentation.

Despite the high expectation that the budget would be presented yesterday, security operatives at the assembly denied the state house correspondents access to the legislative chamber after waiting for about 30 minutes or more for the presentation of the 2019 budget.

After about 30 minutes, a police officer, who introduced himself as officer-in-charge, asked the state house correspondents to leave the assembly complex, perhaps acting on the directive of the speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.

The police officer claimed that he received information from the speaker that the lawmakers would not take the governor’s budget presentation as earlier expected.

He said the speaker was having a private meeting with other lawmakers and would not want to be disturbed.

He said, “I know you are journalists and here for your job but the budget will not be presented today. The speaker and the lawmakers are having a private session and would not like to see people at the lobby”.

Ambode had been having a frosty relationship with the lawmakers after he fell out with the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

There were reports of an attempt to impeach Ambode, though the speaker denied it.

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IMF lowers Nigeria’s growth progression

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) projection for 2019 to two per cent, from the 2.3 per cent it had predicted for the country previously.

The fund stated this in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) update titled, “A Weakening Global Expansion,” released Monday.

It noted that emerging market and developing economies had been tested by difficult external conditions over the past few months amid trade tensions, rising US interest rates, dollar appreciation, capital outflows, and volatile oil prices

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Politics

Read: Why I visited America – Atiku

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Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has stated why he visited the United States of America.

The former vice-president arrived Washington on Thursday despite controversy over the belief that he was facing corruption charges in the US.

Atiku stated that he travelled to the US, because he has a mission to “create the right economic atmosphere for American investments to return to Nigeria”.

Full text below:

It has become pertinent for me to speak about my ongoing visit to the United States of America, where I have met and I am still meeting with the U.S. administration officials and business leaders.

I travelled to the United States of America because I have a mission, which is to create the right economic atmosphere for American investments to return to Nigeria at a rate and quantum that we had before the current Nigerian administration’s policies almost halted the flow of foreign direct investments to Nigeria.

I am in America because Atiku means jobs.

My reason for running for the office of president of Nigeria and even for going into public service in the first place, is because I believe that Nigeria has what it takes to be the beacon of hope for the black race and a leading nation of reckoning in the international community.

This has not materialised over the course of the last four years because, as Chinua Achebe prophetically said in his 1983 book, “the trouble with Nigeria is the failure of leadership.”

The current Nigerian administration has allowed our relationship with our long-standing friends and partners to deteriorate and this has had unfortunate consequences for our economy.

Foreign relations that had been meticulously and delicately built for decades were allowed to deteriorate because members of the incumbent administration mistook their personal interests as the interests of Nigeria and allowed short term goals to dominate their foreign policies.

New friendships should not be made at the cost of old friendships. It is not an either-or situation. Right from Independence, Nigeria has nurtured a policy of non-alignment. We borrowed from the Lincoln policy of malice toward none and charity for all. Sadly, that policy has suffered major setbacks in the last four years.

As a leader in business, I am cognisant of the fact that both Western and Oriental nations will be making the transition from fossil fuels to electric powered vehicles and other green energies over the course of the next two decades. This means that Nigeria’s oil has a limited shelf life.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed and we must, as a nation, begin to make the transition from an oil economy to a modern one based on manufacturing and value-added agricultural chain.

…my vision is for trade to go both ways. Nigeria has a lot to offer America via her creative industry (Nollywood is the world’s third largest movie industry) and rich mining sectors (Nigeria’s Kaduna State is rich in gold ore). I am also eager to find a market in the U.S. for some of the half a million shoes manufactured in Nigeria’s cities of Kano and Aba everyday.

The message I took to the United States business community is not a new message. In my opinion editorial in the British media (“Beyond Brexit – Nigeria wants a new trade deal with Britain”), I submitted that Brexit is an opportunity for Nigeria and the United Kingdom to have a Big Ambitious Free Trade Agreement.
It is only common sense.

In 2014, the African continent as a whole earned $2.4 billion from coffee grown in Africa and shipped mainly to Europe. That sounds impressive. However, one nation alone, Germany, made $3.8 billion from re-exporting Africa’s coffee in 2014.

As a businessman, I see this and I cannot allow it to continue. It is unconscionable, but situations like these will not stop unless Nigeria and Africa have leadership that thinks business, instead of aid, and capital instead of loans.

Nigeria has, perhaps, the highest populations of youth as a segment of the total population, in the world. Already, we have the unfortunate distinction of being the world headquarters of extreme poverty. We cannot afford business as usual. My single-minded focus is to change this dubious record by transforming Nigeria from a consumer nation to a prosumer nation (a nation that consumes what it produces).

For this to happen, we need U.S. firms who have divested from Nigeria, to return. We need Procter and Gamble to reopen its $300 million Nigerian plant, which it shut down last year. We need General Electric to reverse its $2.7 billion pull out of Nigeria.

And my vision is for trade to go both ways. Nigeria has a lot to offer America via her creative industry (Nollywood is the world’s third largest movie industry) and rich mining sectors (Nigeria’s Kaduna State is rich in gold ore). I am also eager to find a market in the U.S. for some of the half a million shoes manufactured in Nigeria’s cities of Kano and Aba everyday.

Someone somewhere said Nigeria’s youth are lazy. I am one of the single largest employers of Nigeria’s youth and I know that assertion is false. My travels in Europe and America is to sell the Nigeria that I know to the world that does not yet know her. A Nigeria with not just a hardworking youthful population, but a nation with some of the smartest working people on earth. A nation that is open for business and a Nigeria that is much more than oil.

And I am certain that if I am successful in selling this Nigeria to the world, the world will come to Nigeria for business. That is why I am in America. Because I believe in JOBS – Jobs, Opportunity, Being United and Security and it is time Nigeria and all Nigerians finally have the opportunity to realise their true potentials.

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