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As Tinubu moves to rev up economic recovery with consumer credit

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By Temitope Ajayi

As the new year 2024 begins with a positive outlook, Nigerians can look forward to a great and economically rewarding year as the federal government is set to launch a massive consumer credit system in the country.

While seeking the mandate of Nigerians during the last electioneering season, President Bola Tinubu was big and loud on the catalytic effect of consumer credit in driving economic recovery, growth and development, in boosting industrial production and as a strong weapon against corruption.

Long before he declared for the Presidency of Nigeria, President Tinubu had been a big advocate of consumer credit. He made it a key highlight of his remarks at the 2016 edition of the Bola Tinubu Colloquium in Lagos where he called out Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia; his UBA counterpart, Tony Elumelu, and other bankers in attendance to begin to rethink consumer credit in Nigeria and charged them to develop good banking products in this regard.

In ‘Financialism: Water from Empty Well,’ a book he co-authored with Brian Browne, several pages were devoted to how consumer credit can propel unprecedented growth and shared prosperity To demonstrate his absolute commitment to achieving this objective and a major campaign promise clearly enunciated in his Renewed Hope Agenda for a better Nigeria, President Tinubu has set in motion the process to entrench consumer credit as one of the building blocks of a virile and productive economy.

Against this backdrop, the Presidential Council on Industrial Revitalisation, on December 20, 2023, just before the Christmas holiday, established a Technical Working Group to develop the needed framework to enhance consumer credit in Nigeria.

The Tinubu-led administration, in the words of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, recognises the importance of consumer credit and its linkage to market efficiencies.

“An efficient consumer credit system is a highly essential component of successful economies, as it works to improve market efficiencies and fill in gaps in consumption and productivity by providing consumers immediate access to credit, allowing them to purchase ahead of ability,” the Minister said.

At the inaugural meeting of the Technical Working Group on Consumer credit system that had other members including the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, Uzoka-Anite lamented how the absence of consumer credit had shrunk the productive capacity of the economy and hampered financial inclusion.

“The absence of a well-structured consumer credit system has been a significant impediment to financial inclusion and economic prosperity,” the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment declared.

Given the current state of the economy and the strong push by the government to revamp it, the setting up of the Technical Working Group by the Presidential Council on Industrial Revitalisation can be said to be timely and strategic. The Technical Working Group, among other things, will draw up a working proposal and implementation method on how the country can achieve a viable institutional and regulatory framework that will significantly open up the consumer credit landscape.

According to Uzoka-Anite, Nigeria has numerous financial institutions and credit schemes, but many Nigerians still face substantial hurdles in accessing credit due to stringent eligibility criteria, high interest rates, identity-related challenges, fragmented data sources for proof of livelihood and financial worth, lack of awareness or understanding of credit processes, and inadequate credit available for lending. To make sure the agenda of President Tinubu is established on a solid ground and for seamless take-off of the credit scheme, the government has brought together various Ministries and agencies of government that have roles to play to work collaboratively for a successful execution.

The Technical Working Group draws its members from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), the National Institute of Credit Administration (NICA), the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and the Bank of Industry (BOI) amongst others. It must be said that because of the importance attached to the scheme by President Tinubu, the TWG set for itself a five-month timeline to achieve its objectives. This means that by May 2024, a comprehensive, life-changing, and an all-encompassing consumer credit system will be launched.

Uzoka-Anite who is the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Council on Industrial Revitalisation spoke on the specific objectives and the tasks before her Committee to include: “increasing consumer credit uptake in Nigeria, enabling a sustainable credit system for the country in line with global best practices, and enhancing the supporting infrastructure (technology, data, financial institutions, global partners) to boost credit operations and equip players in the industry.”

In delivering on its core mandate, the TWG has adopted, according to the Vice Chairman, a holistic consultative approach that will draw on the experience, knowledge, and expertise of the credit ecosystem to understand the issues within the industry and define workable solutions to addressing them.

As he declared in his New Year National Broadcast, President Tinubu committed himself to removing every obstacle that impedes economic recovery and competitiveness of the business environment. In the New Year’s speech, he also assured that his administration would race against time to deliver necessary reforms that would make life better for all Nigerians. This move by the government to recalibrate consumer credit system is one important reform that will give a new lease of life to Nigerians to be able to own the consumer goods they desire without the burden of having to pay all at once.

The strategy will also be calibrated to promote local industries and boost productivity among Nigerians towards achieving the lofty economic growth and development promises of the Tinubu administration, as Nigerians will be encouraged to patronise local goods and services. This way, the velocity of credit will be enhanced, and the dreams of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the transformative power of credit and capital will be achieved.

 

Ajayi is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity

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3 injured as 2 armed drones from Lebanon explode in Israel

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Two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Lebanon carrying explosives exploded in northern Israel on Tuesday, lightly injuring three people, Israeli authorities said, amid heightened tensions between Israel and Iran and its allies.

The Israeli military said in a statement that the armed drones crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory and exploded in the area of Beit Hillel in the Galilee.

Three people sustained light injuries, Israel’s state-owned Kan reported.

The drones did not trigger air raid sirens, and the military said the incident was under review.

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CBN expresses commitment to harnessing digital technologies

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The Central Bank of Nigeria says it is committed to harnessing the power of digital technologies to enhance financial inclusion.

Mr Yemi Cardoso, CBN Governor, said this on Tuesday in Abuja, during a strategic institutions tour by participants of Senior Executive Course 46 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).

Cardoso, who was represented by Dr Bala Bello, Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, said that digital technologies would also boost productivity and create an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive.

According to him, the apex bank has already deployed robust digital technologies in driving most of its processes towards achieving optimal performance.

He said that NIPSS, as a foremost national policy think-tank, had made invaluable contributions to the socio-political and macroeconomic development of Nigeria.

“We are, therefore, not surprised at the apt and relevant choice of your research theme.

“The CBN and NIPSS have had a long-standing and robust working relationship since the establishment of the institute. This has culminated into positive mutual benefits for the two institutions.

“The CBN, on the one hand, has provided infrastructural support to the institute through construction of an auditorium and a hostel, in addition to the provision of technical support.

“On the other hand, NIPSS has supported the technical capacity of the CBN through the training of some personnel both at senior executive course level and intermediate course cadre,” he said.

The Director-General of NIPSS, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, said that the study visiting would be representing the institute in getting information from operators of the apex bank on the relevance of digital technology to developing jobs for Nigerian youths.

According to Omotayo, a lot of progress has been made globally in using digital systems to run the economy.

“The more of our activities that we can put in digital format, the more we get the opportunity of providing employment access to a whole lot of the 120 million active Nigerians.

“We at NIPSS always knock at the frontiers of knowledge, checking what is going to happen in the immediate future.

“We are working towards a system where we believe that almost every service can be delivered digitally,” he said.

The Acting Director, Monetary Policy Department of the CBN, Dr Lafi Bala Keffi, commended the NIPSS study group for its interest in the apex bank.

She urged the participants to explore the time-tested culture of NIPSS, which is to diagnose national, profer practical solutions and recommend ways of making such solutions realisable.

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NCAA suspends licences of 3 private jet owners

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Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended licences of three Permit for Non-Commercial Flight (PNCF), otherwise known as private jet owners, over alleged failure to comply with regulatory requirements.

Acting Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Chris Najomo, disclosed this to newsmen on Tuesday in Lagos.

Najomo said that after issuing a stern warning to the PNCFs in March, the authority deployed its men to monitor activities of private jet owners at airport terminals across the country.

He said that consequent upon the heightened surveillance, three private operators were found to have violated the annexure provisions of their PNCF and Part 9114 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations, 2023.

Najomo further stated that NCAA would be carrying out a re-evaluation of regulatory requirements compliance of all PNCFs owners within the next 72 hours.

This, he said, this was in line with the authority’s zero tolerance for violations of regulations.

“In line with our zero tolerance for violation of regulations, the authority has suspended the PNCF of these operators.

“To further sanitise the general aviation sector, I have directed that a re-evaluation of all holders of PNCF be carried out on or before April 19, to ascertain compliance with regulatory requirements.

“All PNCF holders will be required to submit relevant documents to the authority within the next 72 hours,” he said.
Najomo recalled that in 2023, the use of private jets for commercial purposes had gotten the attention of the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), who issued marching orders for cessation of such acts.

He said that in March, NCAA issued a stern warning to holders of the permit for non-commercial flights, PNCF, against engaging in the carriage of passenger cargo or mail for hire and reward.

Najomo said that the riot act was also directed at existing Air Operator Certificate (AOC) holders who utilised aircraft listed on their PNCF for commercial charter operations.

“It must be emphasised that only the aircraft listed in the Operation Specifications of the AOC are authorised to be used in the provision of such charter services.

“Any of those AOC holders who wish to use the aircraft for charter operations must apply to the NCAA to delist the affected aircraft from the PNCF and include it into the AOC operations specification.

“NCAA wishes to reiterate to the travelling public not to patronise any airline charter operator who does not hold a valid AOC issued by the NCAA, when they wish to procure charter operation services,” he said.

The NCAA boss, thereafter, encouraged legitimate players in the aviation industry to promptly report such illegal activities to the authority for necessary action.

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