President Buhari has appointed ex CBN Deputy Governor, Sarah Omotunde Alade, as Special Adviser on Finance and the Economy.

This is according to a statement by Garba Shehu, the president’s spokesman on Tuesday, November 5th.

Here are some facts about her.

1.Sarah Alade is 62 years old

2. She attended the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, where she obtained a B.Sc (Hons) degree in Economics in 1976. She also obtained an M.Comm degree at the University of Melbourne, Australia in 1983 and a PhD Management Science (Operations Research), from the University of Ilorin in 1991.

3. Alade started her working career in 1977 with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Ilorin, Kwara State.

4. In 1991, she joined the University of Ilorin as a lecturer in the Department of Accounting and Finance.

5. She joined the Central Bank of Nigeria in 1993 as an assistant director in the Research Department, where she served as head of the State Government Finance Office (1993–96), head of the Federal Government Finance Office (1996–2000) and head of the Fiscal Analysis Division (2000–04).

6. She was appointed the director of the Banking Operations Department in May 2004. In that capacity, she served as chairman of the board of directors of the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) as well as secretary of the National Payments System Committee (NPSC).

7. She served as deputy governor (Economic Policy), Central Bank of Nigeria from 26 March 2007.

8. Alade was appointed the acting governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by President Goodluck Jonathan on 20 February 2014 during the suspension of Lamido Sanusi until the appointment of Godwin Emefiele.

9. She retired from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as Deputy Governor in 2017 after spending 23 years in the apex bank.



News Credit: fabwoman.ng

Iya Bisi, as she asks to be addressed, sits by the junction of Brown street at Oshodi, a popular Lagos suburb known for the diversity of its market space. She sits with her wares, eating roasted corn as she calls out to potential customers. Iya Bisi is attractive, not for the head-turning beauty of a young African damsel but her breasts. Under the black, polo shirt she wears, one sees the frame of her breasts, as they dangle down, resting midway to her stomach, just by the tip of the stray on which she displays her goods. It is a spectacle and figurative for how many Nigerian women put out their breasts to eke a living.

The struggle for funds demands from Nigerian female petty traders their breasts— symbol of their pride. Access to loan facilities is restrictive for many market women. The scale of their business is hardly enough to secure a loan in any conventional banks. When the business is big enough, many of them are illiterate, unbanked and have no significant collateral.

“Ori omo ni ere run si,” says Iya Bisi. She means her children are her investments and collateral. Most women operating in the informal sector of the economy spend a chunk of their meager profit on upkeep and family expenses, hardly able or even considering long term investments. And until banks could accept mothers’ dream for her children as collateral, women like Iya Bisi have no chance in any conventional bank.

Nigeria’s economy is mostly informal. The informal sector accounted for 65% of the country’s entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017, says Nigeria’s Bank of Industry (BoI). In the same vein, the sector accounts for 70% of industrial employment but, significantly, women hugely populate the industry. The International Labour Organization report finds that women dominate 46% of the informal sector in urban Nigeria. These women are in different market clusters across the country.

The pains of breasts on kindle

The advent of Microfinance Banks in Nigeria provides petty traders the possibility of small-scale loans to support their businesses. These banks target poor, often, illiterate market women. The traders can access N20,000 loans and grow it to N300,000 through the banks. The loan facility can potentially boost the business and increase profit over time for Iya Bisi, whose entire wares are less than N20,000.

However, the scheme is not without its shortfalls. The crude means by which banks recoup loans leave some of the women physically and emotionally bruised. The frustration and, sometimes, the humiliation that comes with repayment earn the financial scheme the Yoruba coinage; ‘komu le lantern’ (put your breasts on a burning lantern).

Shakira Abolore is unable to hold back hot tears as they roll down her cheeks. Her eyeballs red from memory she is about to share. She is completely overwhelmed by missed emotions— mostly sadness and regrets. She weeps at the open market not minding the uninvited audience that now gathers around her as she retells the humiliation that sends her out of her childhood community.

The 35-year-old woman lived at Kosofe area of Lagos. She grew up there and moved in with her husband in the same neighborhood when she got married. Now, she hawks walnut at Berger market. Her small tray is filled with N100 packs of walnut tied in transparent plastics. It is her last resort following the crash of her oil business.

“It breaks my heart as I am telling you this,” Shakira says, struggling to control the tears. “I was a housegirl for a year, to raise money to start my own business. I went back to where I did an apprenticeship, learning how to make palm oil. After my freedom, I opened my shop. I was making palm oil and selling.”

Some months in, marketers of Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO), one of the first and, perhaps, the most popular microfinance banks, approached her for a loan. She would later take a N50,000 loan which became laborious to repay.

“I was paying N3,500 every week, but when I could not meet up the first week, they came to lock up my husband’s house. In the second week, I got money from my sister to pay for the weeks. By the time I got to the 10th week, I had totally lost all investment, the money I had borrowed and my own. There was nothing left in my shop.

“Once I remove the loan payment for the week, I hardly have enough to buy material for my business. The money gradually evaporates from my hands.”

By the 11th week, Shakirat says she could no longer meet up. Already, her stocks were gone at this point. That was when she decided to come into Berger to begin hawking, in other to meet her weekly payment. By the 12th week, she has defaulted for two consecutive weeks.

“I was here when my sister’s husband called that my sister had been arrested. I had gathered funds for two weeks; I sent to my brother-in-law to pay so they would let my sister go. I could not go back to my area. The shame was too much. They had locked my husband’s house and then lock up my sister. I stayed back here to hawk so I can pay back the loan.”

Eventually, she repaid the loan with the profit from her walnut sales with swear and sweat. Her savings with the bank was liquidated to augment payment, she says.

“Because of the incident,” she explains, breaking into fresh tears.” Ihad to put my two children in custody of different relatives. My first child is about to write WAEC; I have not been able to pay. I thought to get the loan so I could, but I was advised against it. I might have to put her where she would learn some vocation.”

The love-hate relationship

The tales of loss, humiliation, and frustrations lace experiences of these women as they struggle to secure funds to boost their small businesses. Across various markets in Lagos State, Komu le lantern has a love-hate reputation. It is that friend one misses but becomes troublesome when around.

Mummy Olamide says she has palpitations and fear of possible embarrassments when she takes the Microfinance loans. But she continues to take up multiple loans, and from different banks, too. She takes loans from LAPO, Grooming Microfinance, and Eagle Eye.

“What can I do?” she asks. “I don’t have any helper, and I have no one to give me money for this small thing I am selling.”

Mummy Olamide is a dark, friendly woman. Unlike Shakira, she is lettered. She says she serves as secretary of three different women’s groups. LAPO requires the petty traders to form a small group through which they access loans. Mummy Olamide says she has taken loans from all these groups. Surprisingly, her snack business is diminishing. The transparent rectangular plastic she keeps eggroll and doughnuts has less than 30 pieces of the varieties. Yet, mummy Olamide has taken four different loans to scale up the business.

“I have taken two N50,000 loans, N100,000, the last one I am paying is N250,000,” she reveals. “But I cannot see the difference. By the time I finish paying, my wares have gone back to how I started”.

She claims she always meets up payment hence escapes humiliation, but not everyone is as lucky.

“We’ve seen instances where they would put a signboard saying they are debtors around their necks and ask them to beg about the market. They could also bring a small crowd to your shop. The crowd would be shouting and singing insulting songs. They’ve locked people in public toilets. All the microfinance banks do it,” she says.

In another instance, the strokes are different for Stephany Okoli, or maybe she chooses to see the good. She sells baby clothes by the roadside. She used to own a shop, but her shop was demolished. She now puts her wares on a tarpaulin spread so she can quickly fold and run to safety when law enforcement officials violently disperse roadside hawkers.

When Stephany got married in 2015, she needed money to start up a business. She had only LAPO to turn to. The 38-year-old, bubbly lady got on her feet with the help of her first loan. She managed well until the Lagos State Government demolished her stall.

“See, the loan is good so long as you do not default. When my shop got demolished, and I could not meet up payment. The officer came and wanted to start talking to me anyhow. I told her to take me to her manager.

“When the manager saw my books, he was surprised. I have never defaulted, I explained to him, and he understood. They gave me another plan for repaying. It has been good. I paid back and got another one.”

The opportunity cost of faulty government’s Frameworks

The Nigerian government has initiatives that could provide a more convenient credit facility for those in the informal sector and protect those who choose to engage the services of the commercial banks. But for lack of proper implementation, the industry suffers, and these helpless women become the opportunity cost.

A government scheme that could potentially provide credit facilities to small businesses is the TraderMoni interest-free loan. TraderMoni is a cash-based payment meant for traders like Iya Bisi and Mummy Olamide. It is positioned as a scheme to put money into the informal sector. The aim, as propagated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, is to provide small loans for petty traders like the microfinance banks, but even better because it adds no interest.

“The TraderMoni, if properly scrutinized and well-implemented, can build our small and medium scale entrepreneurs and enterprises in Nigeria,” says Lanre Suraj, the Executive Director of Human and Development Agenda (HEDA).

However, the implementation of the scheme has limited its intended impact. The process of disbursement was politicized; hence, those who should benefit could not access it. In an interview with SaharaReporters in January, Awwal Rafsanjani, Chairman of Transparency International in Nigeria, says the scheme is merely to score political points.

Rafsanjani re-echoes this position when he dubs TraderMoni as voters’ inducement hence its failure to achieve set objectives.

Also, one of the key performance indicators of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy of the Central Bank of Nigeria is consumer protection. The strategy says, “financial institutions are to provide financial services that are accessible, affordable, meet consumer needs and align with established consumer protection principles.” The CBN says it is to prevent exploitation by service providers.

There is also the Consumer Protection Framework (CPF) to protect end-users of financial services. The CBN says that “CPF stipulates that consumers should be proactively engaged and given early notice of outstanding obligations before the commencement of debt collection actions.

“Where consumers are, however, unable to meet their financial obligations, financial institutions are to adopt fair and ethical debt recovery practices.”

These guidelines are being neglected as microfinance banks continue to deploy crude means in recovering their investments.

The services of these microfinance banks are important, as they remain the only viable source of credit facility for these traders. Nonetheless, the banks must also ensure that the rights of their customers are not infringed on in any way.



Culled from Sahara Reporters

The Cable reports that Diamond Bank has been acquired by Access Bank.

An official statement addressing the acquisition will be released this week, The Cable reports, by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The deal was reportedly overseen by the Central Bank, with an insider, a Diamond Bank official, saying that customers of the bank need not panic as “the bank is in safe hands.


Credit: Bella Naija

The bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Uzoma Dozie, said this in a statement signed by the bank’s Head of media, Ezechinyere Anyanwu on Friday in Abuja.

According to Dozie, the move was part of Diamond Bank’s strategy to focus on Nigeria’s significant opportunities.

He said that the change in the license means Diamond bank can expand product services to Nigerian consumers.

Dozie said: ”With this approval the bank will cease to operate as an International Bank.

“The re-licensing as a national bank supports Diamond’s objective of streamlining its operations to focus resources on the significant opportunities in the Nigerian retail banking market, and economy as a whole.

“The move follows Diamond’s decision to sell its international operations, which included the disposal of its West African Subsidiary in 2017 and Diamond Bank UK, the sale of which is currently in its final stages.

“The change to national bank status also enables the bank to maintain a lower minimum capital requirement of 10 per cent as against 15 per cent required for international banks.

Dozie said that the approval would enable the bank to deploy more capital for stronger growth in the quarters ahead through additional investment in technology platforms.

He said it would also enable the bank deploy funds to customer acquisition and expansion of loans to the critical sectors of the economy.

According to Dozie, the move to a national banking license marks a continuation of a strategy to focus on Nigeria’s significant fundamental trends.

This, he said included a large under banked population and Africa’s biggest economy.

He said: ”By focusing and optimising our resources towards Nigeria and the priority area of retail banking, we will be better positioned for longer term growth and greater profitability.

“The reduction in minimum capital requirement also increases our capacity to expand the quantum of business and product services we can offer consumers.

“It will also represent a key step in strengthening our financial position.

“This development does not affect the bank’s ability to offer services to its clients in international locations.

”Rather, with focus on its domestic business being priority, the bank also intends to pay down in full, the Eurobond loan of 200milliin dollars at maturity in May 2019.

According to the chief executive, there will be no refinancing of the loan.

He said this was because of the intent to pay down with foreign exchange generated from its internal operations, a reflection of the solidity of its operations and funds flow in the last few years.

He further said that top quality services to international customers would continue through the bank’s digital channels and network of correspondence banks.

Credit: Pulse

The Senate has passed a resolution calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria to suspend the ATM card maintenance charges being deducted from customers.

The Senate made this known via a tweet @SPNigeria.

This resolution came as part of a motion on the illicit and excessive bank charges on customers accounts, sponsored by Senator Olugbenga Ashafa (Lagos East, APC).

“For me, this is a major step that we are taking. This is because I introduced the first ATM machine that came into Nigeria over 25 years ago,” the Senate President, Dr. Saraki told his colleagues, “Now, after 25 years, we should have grown out of these excessive charges and moved on. So, I believe that this something that we must address to create an environment that protects all Nigerians, because these kind of charges in this economy affects everyone”.

The Senate also called on commercial banks operating in the country to configure their machines to dispense up to N40,000 per withdrawal pending the outcome of the investigation by the Senate committees tasked with investigating the excessive and illicit bank charges.

Speaking on the Motion, the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki said: “This is a motion that affects the lives of every Nigerian — irrespective of what part of the country you come from or whatever political affiliation you might have. This is why we are here: to always defend and protect the interests of the Nigerian people.”

The Senate further directed its Committees on Banking, Insurance & other Financial Institutions and Finance to conduct an investigation into the propriety of ATM card maintenance charges in comparison with international best practices and report back to the Senate.

The Senate also directed the aforementioned committees to invited the Governor of the CBN to appear before it to explain why the official charges as approved by the CBN are skewed in favour of the banking institutions as against the ordinary customers of the banks.


Credit: Punch

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced that it will begin fining banks ₦10,000 for failing to reverse failed electronic transactions within 24 hours.

The central bank stated this in a “Circular on the regulation on instant inter-bank electronic funds transfer services in Nigeria,” Punch reports.

Any failed Nigerian Instant Payment transaction not reversed into the customer’s account within 24 hours, based on complaint of the sender and/or beneficiary will attract a fine of N10,000, the Central Bank of Nigeria has said.

Banks may take sometimes take as long as 5 working days in the current system, but the apex bank has said this is no longer allowed.

“The sanctions above and any other prescribed in the Nigeria Bankers’ Clearing System rules or any amendment thereto, shall apply,” the CBN said.