Category Archives: Economy and Business

We’re Not Leaving Nigeria: ShopRite Debunks Exit Rumours

Africa’s biggest grocery retailer ShopRite has debunked rumors making the rounds that they’re quitting Nigeria. The news broke during the early hours of Monday, August 2nd stating that ShopRite was packing up operations within the country.

This development was attributed to a sharp plummet in sales, resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Shoprite Nigeria has now refuted the information, saying there is no truth in it. In a phone conversation with Vanguard, the country director for Chastex Consult, Ini Archibong, in a telephone conversation with Vanguard, said:

“We have only just opened to Nigerian investors which we have also been talking to just before now. We are not leaving, who leaves over a $30billion investment and close shop? It doesn’t sound right. We only just given this opportunity to Nigeria investors to come in and also help drive our expansion plan in Nigeria. So we are not leaving.”

I have tried to say this as too many people as I can. There should be no panic at all and all of that. There is no truth in that report”.

In a now circulating statement from ShopRite Holding, the company had said it was changing its model of business and hinted at quitting its operations in Nigeria.

Part of the statement read:

“Following approaches from various potential investors, and in line with our re-evaluation of the group’s operating model, in Nigeria, the Board has decided to initiate a formal process to consider the potential sale of all, or a majority stake, in Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Shoprite International Limited,” the company said in a statement”.

The news was greeted with distress from Nigerians as many are already grappling with unemployment and suspected exit may leave a staggering vacuum.

Breaking: Shoprite says its done with Nigeria, announces plans to leave

South African retail giant Shoprite has announced it is leaving Nigeria 15 years after it began operation in Africa’s most populous country.

In a statement on Monday, the Cape Town-based retailer said it has commenced a formal process to consider the potential sale of all or a majority stake in its supermarkets in Nigeria.

The company said the results for the year do not reflect any of their operations in Nigeria as it will be classified as discontinued operation.

“Following approaches from various potential investors, and in line with our re-evaluation of the group’s operating model in Nigeria, the board has decided to initiate a formal process to consider the potential sale of all, or a majority stake, in Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Shoprite International Limited. As such, Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited may be classified a discontinued operation when Shoprite reports its result for the year,” the statement read.

International supermarkets (excluding Nigeria) contributed 11.6 per cent to group sales, and reported 1.4 per cent decline in sales from 2018.

South African operations contributed 78 per cent of overall sales and saw 8.7 per cent rise for the year.

Due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, customer visits declined 7.4 per cent but the average basket spend increased by 18.4 per cent.

South African retailers have struggled in the Nigerian market and most recently Mr Price exited the market after Woolworths did the same six years ago.

CHINESE LOANS: Buhari must apologise to  Nigerians- Atiku Media Office

Former vice-president Atiku Abubakar’s position on Nigeria’s foreign debt has been vindicated and President Buhari must apologise to him and Nigerians.

The Atiku Media Office made the demand in a statement Sunday.

The statement was entitled: Loans: Buhari, APC Owe Nigerians An Apology:

Please Read:

Two months ago, the former Vice President of Nigeria and PDP Presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar patriotically called the attention of the country to the reality of reckless borrowing by the present APC administration and how the terms of those loans could compromise the future of the country.

Expectedly, some managers of the party and even the government denied the allegations that he raised and also discount the warning for caution.

But, regrettably, just last week, a cabinet minister confirmed our fears.

Now, we all are aware that Nigeria’s sovereignty may have been traded for foreign loans and God forbids our inability to service those loans, the lender country would take ownership of choice infrastructure on the Nigerian soil. No negotiation could be weaker than that!

Nigeria had a total foreign debt stock of $7.02 billion on May 29, 2015. Today, our foreign debt is $23 billion and rapidly rising. Debt, by itself, is not a bad thing. But debt budgeted for such unproductive ventures, like the proposed $500 million upgrade of the Nigerian Television Authority and other sundry bogus contracts, is debt that leads to death. To trade Nigeria’s sovereignty for this type of profligacy is the height of irresponsibility!

Atiku Abubakar has long advocated for a more robust engagement of the private sector and promotion of foreign direct investment as sustainable alternatives through which government could fund infrastructure development.

But on the contrary, the Nigerian government under the banner of the All Progressives Congress threaded the direction of looking for cheap foreign loans in exchange for the sovereignty for Nigeria.

Recall that former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration initiated a National Privatization Programme with the sole objective of ensuring that the private sector took some measure of influence in social investment portfolio and, in some instances, provided funding for infrastructure development.

There was nothing in that plan that traded Nigeria’s sovereignty for some cheap loans which, in the light of unfolding revelations of sleaze in some departments of government, would have ended in private pockets.

The government of the day and the APC must apologize to Nigerians and make an admittance of guilt for taking the country through the throes of subjugation to another country.

Aba Automated Shoe Factory, Best In Nigeria – Technical Partner

The Technical Partner of the Aba Automated Shoe Factory, Mr Osaro Ekonweren, has described the Aba Automated Shoe Factory as currently having the most updated shoe producing machines in the country.Mr. Ekonweren said this yesterday in an exclusive interview immediately after the inauguration of the Board of the Company by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.According to the Technical Partner, “we were amazed and impressed by what we saw on ground. Our group has been into shoe production in Nigeria for over a decade now and I must confess that the machines we saw there when we went on inspection cannot be found anywhere in the country. We use machines in our own company but we have is no where near what is at the Aba Shoe Factory”.Mr. Ekonweren said that at present, the factory has an installed capacity for the production of 5000 pairs of shoes every day which translates to about 2 million pairs of shoes annually, with facilities for expansion and assured that they plan to actually expand this capacity within the next one year.He saluted the foresight of Governor Ikpeazu and confirmed that the factory will change the face of shoe production in Nigeria.He said that his organization was selected as Technical Partners for the factory based on a proven and verifiable track record of quality automated shoe production spanning over 10 years. He stated that they make shoes for companies like PEP of South Africa and several others, assuring that the products from the Aba factory will be well received by the markets. According to him, products from this factory will not just be for the local market here but will be sold across West Africa and beyond.He assured that the factory will be run as a professional and commercial outfit with clear opportunities for value addition and job creation.On when actual production will commence at the factory, he assured that they will start test runs in the next two weeks while they will start production by the second week of September. He made it clear that by December this year, shoes from the factory would have gained ground in the local and international markets. He also stated that the factory will also produce other leather works like bags, belts, wallets, etc.Also speaking, the Executive Director, Operations of the Factory, Mr Chinenye Nwaogu said that with the new management structure in place, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has sent a clear message that the factory will be run solely on a basis of professionalism inspired by commercial expediency. He said that the 30 shoe makers who were sent to China by the Governor for training on the use of machines in shoe production will form the initial technical staff of the factory while there will be huge emphasis on training for more operators.Mr Nwaogu said that the apparent delay in the start of production at the factory was because the Governor insisted that a professional organization must be found to run the place and the process took some time, coupled with the pandemic of COVID-19 which shut down the country for about three months.The Governor inaugurated the Board of the Factory yesterday and gave them a clear mandate to raise the bar and cement the place of Abia State as the powerhouse of leather works in Nigeria and West Africa. The Board has Mr. Mark Atasie, a Management Consultant as Chairman.More photos:

How NNPC Staff Sold 48 Million Barrels Of Stolen Crude Oil, Issued Death Threats To Whistleblower

Facts have emerged on how some Nigerian Government officials and senior Nigerian National Petroleum Corporations staff connived to sell 48 million barrels of Bonny Light crude oil stolen from the country during the first year of President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term in office in 2015.

The stolen crude was moved to China where it was stored in various ports and terminals including Sinochem tanks in Zhoushan bonded area and Vishal star tanks.

Potential buyers were from that point contacted for the stolen product by the Nigerian Government officials including a company that eventually blew the whistle on the monumental fraud.

Realising that the crude was stolen, SAMANO SA DE CV brought to the Nigerian Government’s attention the criminal activity involving the NNPC, according to documents seen by SaharaReporters.

Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, late Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Abba Kyari, and Mr Umar Mohammed were all promptly notified of the stolen crude in order to take appropriate action.

However, a letter written by the whistleblower to the President was prevented from getting to him by Mohammed.

In October 2015, the stolen crude was moved from China without the knowledge of President Buhari and sold illegally by some government and NNPC officials with the proceeds not remitted to the government’s coffers.

When the whistleblower pushed for its agreed five per cent cut of the sale of the crude for exposing the theft, its officials were harassed and issued death threats.

Several efforts for compensation by the whistleblower continues to be frustrated by government officials, who were part of the illegal deal and economic sabotage.

The whistleblower in a letter by its lawyer, Gboyega Oyewole of Lord and Temple, a United Kingdom-based law firm, dated July 23, 2020 to the NNPC GMD has demanded for the company’s compensation for helping to expose the criminal activity.

The whistleblower policy, an anti-corruption programme launched in 2016 by the Nigerian Government, encourages individuals to report cases of financial mismanagement or stolen funds in return for a share of the recovered item if the information provided turns out to be credible.

The letter reads, “Our client was approached by a group in the Peoples’ Republic of Chinas with the intent to sell 48 million barrels of Bonny Light Crude Oil believed to have been stolen from the Federal Republic of Nigeria and stored in various ports and terminals in China.

“It was revealed to our client that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporations authorised certain companies to sell the stolen product.

“It was agreed that an investigation into the stolen products should be made to ascertain the veracity of the information and gather more facts as to the fraudulent activities. It was also agreed that if the information is found credible, the perpetrators of the offensive will be apprehended and that compensation due to our client for the information so brought forward will be awarded.

“In October 2015, our client got wind of the fact that the stolen products were being moved from their location in China by the Nigerian Government in calculated steps to recover the said products. Our client then caused a letter to be written to Mr Mele Kyari, through Mr. Marco Ramirez, offering to legally purchase the said products from the Nigerian Government if available for sale.

“Our client through its representative subsequently wrote to Mr Umar Mohammed clarifying its intention to the criminal activity in respect to the stolen products and not to make illegal purchases of the same.

“To date, our client has unfortunately not received any form of compensation for the information provided to the Nigerian Government in respect of the stolen products and or response to its offer to legally purchase the same when recovered.

“The upright act of reporting the criminal activity to appropriate quarters was not protected by the expected confidential nature of the policy, thereby exposing officials of our client to serious consequences including threat to life.”

The whistleblower’s lawyer further revealed that Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, and former Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, were contacted to help get its compensation but nothing tangible surfaced.

The company has now threatened to take legal action against the NNPC if after 14 days from the date of the receipt of the letter the demand was not met.

Sahara Reporters

How Buhari’s government signed off Nigeria’s sovereignty in loan deal with China-NASS

Members of Nigeria’s House of Representatives have uncovered clauses in a loan collected by the Nigerian Government from China that concedes the country’s sovereignty to the Asian country.

Chairman of the House Committee on Treaties, Protocol and Agreements, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, raised the alarm while probing loans received by the government.

The committee noted that the clauses in Article 8(1) of the commercial loan agreement signed between Nigeria and Export-Import Bank of China allegedly concedes sovereignty of Nigeria to China in the $400m loan for the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project signed in 2018.

According to a report by ThisDay, the controversial clause in the agreement signed by Federal Ministry of Finance (borrower) on behalf of Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China (lender) on September 5, 2018, provides that,

“The borrower hereby irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to Article 8(5), thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuant thereto, except for the military assets and diplomatic assets.”

However, Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi; urged the House not to investigate the loans being received by the government, adding that the probe will jeopardise the chances of the country in getting further loans.

He added that China was monitoring happenings in Nigeria and the probe will send a negative message to the Asian country about Nigeria.

He said, “My fear is that if this probe continues, at the end of the day, some sections of the country may suffer. In oversighting, there is what is called national interest.

“But in asking questions on these loans now, it may jeopardise these loans. The Lagos-Ibadan is not completed; the Ibadan-Kano is not completed.

“Let the Government of China not say there is a disagreement in the government on this loan and so we will not give this loan.

“So, I appeal to the chairman to give us from now till December when we are likely to secure the loans. Then, from January, February, you can resume this investigation.”

However, Amaechi’s plea was not taken as the Committee Chairman said that the minister should return to the committee on August 17 with other ministers to give details of the contract agreements.

The House also summoned the Minister of Communication, Ali Isa Pantani; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; and Director General of the Debt Management Office, Ms Patience Oniha.

The ministers are expected to provide answers on the $500m loan to be sourced from the Export-Import Bank of China for railway lines in the country.

They are also to provide details on the agreement signed between the Federal Ministry of Transport and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation in respect of some railway projects in the country.

The projects involved are the Abuja-Kaduna, Lagos-Ibadan, Ibadan-Kaduna and Kaduna-Kano railways lines.

Sahara Reporters

Ogbette traders demand Enugu Govt. neutrality in association’s election

Traders in Ogbette Main Market, Enugu have called on the state government to maintain neutrality as they prepare for the election of their leaders after a three-year disbandment.

The leader of the group, Mr Okwudili Ani of Wine and Spirit section of the market made the call on Tuesday while briefing newsmen in Enugu.

Recall that the state government had three years ago disbanded the elected executive of Ogbette Main Market Traders Association over leadership tussle.

Consequently, the state government set up a caretaker committee led by a former caretaker committee chairman of Enugu North Local Government Area, Mr John Eze, a none trader.

Ani said that it was gratifying that the caretaker leadership of the traders association had finally deemed it necessary to conduct election three years after they were forced on the association.

He, however, said that the traders would not tolerated undue external influence as they set to choose their leaders.

He said that their position was informed by glaring intrigues, claims and counterclaims leading to the build up of the election.
Ani alleged that the traders had uncovered plans to disqualify one of the candidates vying for the office of the president of the association simply because he is not from a particular section of the state.

He alleged that the leader of the caretaker administration of OMMTA, Eze was behind the intrigue to disqualify one of the contestants whom he described as the most popular candidate.
He said that the traders would resist any attempt by the electoral committee to disqualify any of the contestants unjustly.

Ani said that the three other candidates are from Nsukka “and that is why Eze has been dropping the name of the state governor in his bid to disqualify the only candidate that is not from Nsukka.

“We appeal to them not to create more problems for the traders because we will not tolerate any form of imposition. They should allow us a fair and free ground to choose who leads us,” Ani said.
When contacted, Eze said that neither him nor the electoral committee was involved in any illegality.

Eze said that he was following the constitution of the association in the conduct of the election.

He said that it would be wrong to accuse him of trying to influence the outcome of the exercise, adding “OMMTA has a valid constitution and we are following it.

“Anybody who feels they are qualified is free to contest,” Eze said.

Also, the Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Rev Fr. Nnamdi Nwankwo, said that he had been given the mandate to follow the law in discharging his duties as an umpire.

Nwankwo, who is a Catholic cleric, said that it would be too early to start talking about disqualification when the screening had not been done.

“The screening will be done today and it is only after then that you start talking about qualification and disqualification. I will be very fair but will follow the law blindly,” Nwankwo said.

Our correspondent reports that Ogbette Main Market, which is the largest in the state has known no peace since the last elected EXCO of the traders’ union was dissolved.

Nigerian entrepreneur becomes first African woman to own a European club

An entrepreneur, Dorothy Nneka Ede, has become the first Nigerian woman to own a European football club after purchasing Lusitano Ginasio Clube, a Portuguese third division side, for an undisclosed amount.According to a statement on Thursday, Ede has secured 100 per cent ownership of the 108-years-old club, which last played in the Portuguese top-flight division in 1966.Lusitano G. C which is fondly known as ‘Erbanários’ which means herbalists were recently promoted to Campeonato de Portugal having been on the brink of extinction in the past two decades.The 2019 Evora FA District Champions will be targeting promotion to higher tiers of the Portuguese championships next season.Lusitano most memorably finished as high as 5th place in the 1956/57 Primeira Liga and reached the semi-finals of the Taça de Portugal twice between 1950-1970 the most successful years in the history of the club.According to a press release, the club said, “After months of negotiations with different entities, an agreement has been reached with Mrs. Nneka Ede, a sports enthusiast and entrepreneur from Nigeria, a country filled with people as passionate and fiery about football as us and which incidentally share the same green and white in their flags, towards the transfer of the ownership of the SAD to the latter that will help us in our mission to take Lusitano to the next level.”Ede in her statement, expressed excitement and hopes this deal will foster the great sporting relationship between the two countries.She said, “I am excited about this opportunity and I hope that this new chapter will deepen the already great sporting relations between Nigeria and Portugal, continue with the rich history of Lusitano club and provide a pathway for young talent to develop and shine through.”