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Sterling premieres anthology of Nigerian literature with Farafina 

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Sterling Bank Plc has collaborated with Farafina Books, Nigeria’s leading independent literary publishers, to launch a premier anthology of the best of Nigerian writings spanning 200 years, from 1789 to 2018.

The anthology, titled,‘A Possible Future’ was curated to preserve the gems of Nigeria’s literary history, promote a reading culture in the country as well as to support featured authors in the distribution of their timeless books. The 411-page book features some of the best works of 46 literary authors in the country.

Featured authors include Olaudah Equiano, D.O. Fagunwa, Gabriel Okara, Cyprian Ekwensi, Obotunde Ijimere, Chinua Achebe, Duro Ladipo, Chukwuemeka Ike, Christopher Okigbo, Elechi Amadi, Wole Soyinka, Ola Rotimi, J.P. Clark-Bekederemo, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Isidore Okpewho, Mobolaji Adenubi, Buchi Emecheta, Femi Osofisan, Niyi Osundare, Tanure Ojaide, Odia Ofeimun and Ben Okri.

Others are Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, Dulue Mbachu, Ikeogu Oke, Biyi Bandele, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Aisha Osori, Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi, Yemisi Aribisala, Lola Shoneyin, Teju Cole, Yejide Kilanko, Eghosa Imasuen, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Niran Okewole, A. Igoni Barret, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Taiye Selasi, Jowhor Ile, Tope Folarin, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Helen Oyeyemi, Uche Okonkwo, Gbenga Adesina and Wale Lawal.

Addressing lovers of literature, authors, influencers, and other stakeholders at the event, Chief Executive of Sterling Bank,Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, said the institution decided to collaborate with Farafina on the project because ensuring continued literacy, being a key component of education, is in line with the education component of the bank’s HEART strategy.  The other sectors are health, agriculture, renewable energy, and transportation.

He said besides this, the Bank has for some time now been supporting the literary arts through the Ake Arts and Books Festival, an initiative of the Book Buzz Foundation, which is driven by Lola Shoneyin, an award-winning writer and poet among others.

Also, in the foreword to the book, Mr. Suleiman noted that, “In the long stretch of time between 1947 when Professor Molly Mahood declared that Nigeria, at the time, had no literature and today, the country’s literary tradition has established itself as a force in the world.

“This is not to agree with Mahood that Nigerian literature is only as old as British involvement in the country’s affairs. In fact, by the time British colonialism invaded the geographical space that would later become Nigeria, there was already a deep-rooted literary tradition in the north of the region going as far back as the 15th century. So, we had literature long before we practiced the art in the colonial tongue.”

He said, “Modern Nigerian literature may have been founded by the English based on an assumption – a falsehood, in fact – but the lie does not have to hold any longer. When we decided to believe in ‘A Possible Future,’ we did so with the understanding that Nigerian literature was already of age. While its story is still unfolding and the yardage of its potential still vast, nay infinite, the baby Emecheta, Nwapa and Tutuola once nurtured in verse, prose and on stage, no longer crawls.

“A possible Future is a primer for anyone – and I cannot imagine who, in this age – just getting introduced to Nigerian literature.”

According to him, “Kachifo Limited and Farafina Trust have created a definitive, yet not conclusive text that summarises our literary journey and gestures to its destination. The details of which we do not know yet except that, in that future, everything is excellent, anything is possible and we are here for it.”

The Sterling Bank CEO also read excerpts from Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe, which featured on pages 41 to 42 of the anthology. Temilade Aina, a lietrature curator, took the second reading from the works of Biyi Bandele’s Burma Boy.

The event also featured a panel session made up of Professor Niyi Osundare, Eghosa Imasuen, A. Igoni Barrett, Wale Lawal and Temilade Aina. The session was moderated by Faniyi Kayode, a writer, book critic and editor.

The panel commended the anthology and described it as a premier national work and expressed the hope that subsequent ones will accommodate the works of other writers which are not covered now.

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LCCI advocates discipline, export to sustain Naira appreciation

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LCCI advocates discipline, export to sustain Naira appreciationThe Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has emphasised the importance of maintaining discipline in the foreign exchange market to sustain the steady appreciation of the Naira.

The President and Chairman of the Council of LCCI, Mr Gabriel Idahosa, made the call in an interview with newsmen on Wednesday in Lagos.

Idahosa praised the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria in imposing discipline, attributing the recent Naira appreciation to curbing speculative activities.

“On the monetary side, the CBN is doing it. The primary efforts should continue to impose discipline in the foreign currency market.

“The abuses in the foreign currency market were prevalent and most of the fall in the value of the Naira in the last six months is not because there was any sudden calamity in the Nigerian economy.

“It was primarily because of very reckless speculations, that people were just speculating in the dollar, they had nothing to export, nothing to import, they were just buying the dollar for speculative reasons.

“And once the Central Bank started to impose discipline in the foreign currency market, we saw the value of the Naira rising very quickly by stopping speculation,” he said.

According to him, the strategies of the Central Bank, now, are designed to achieve a sustained discipline in the foreign currency market.

Idahosa highlighted the need to continue reducing the number of Bureau de Change operators, stressing that many operated without contributing to international trade.

He applauded the Central Bank’s move to enforce documentation and identification of buyers and sellers at BDCs, aiming to deter reckless speculation and curb illicit financial flows.

On the fiscal side, Idahosa urged President Bola Tinubu to prioritise a nationwide export drive, citing it as the key to bolstering the Naira and providing essential foreign exchange.

He emphasised the importance of fostering a culture of export among Nigerians across all scales of enterprise to reduce reliance on imports and strengthen the country’s economic resilience.

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Foreign reserves decline to $32.29bn

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The foreign reserve has depleted to $32.29 billion, which is a six-year low in the Central Bank’s course to save the naira.

This is the lowest level the reserves have been since September 25, 2017, when it was $32.28 billion.

The country’s foreign reserves declined by 6.2 percent, losing $2.6 billion since March 18, when the naira started its rebound from record-low levels against the dollar to $32.29 billion as of Monday, based on the latest available data from the CBN.

At the beginning of the month, the reserve was at $33.57 billion, then further dipped to $32.6 billion by April 12.

This comes as the CBN has attempted to save the naira through various interventions such as raising interest rates to 24.75 percent and managing foreign exchange trades.

It stepped up its intervention in the FX market with sales at both the official market and to BDC operators who sell dollars on the streets.

The apex bank, which sells $10,000 to each BDC every week, mandated them to only sell at a spread of 1.5 percent, which comes to N1,117 per US dollar.

The rate sold by the BDCs has set a defacto floor for the naira in the black market since the apex bank resumed sales to them in February.

Also, last month the CBN said it had cleared a backlog of $7 billion since the beginning of the year. That was built over the years as the central bank pegged its currency against the dollar, leading to a scarcity of foreign currency that deterred foreign portfolio investment. However, it’s unclear how much dollar debt the CBN retains on its books.

Akpan Ekpo, a professor of economics and public policy, said the CBN’s managed float system in which it is trying to ensure supply and curtail demand is not sustainable in the long term.

He said the CBN needs to be careful with how it depletes the foreign reserves as its main source is oil revenue.

“We need to manufacture non-oil goods and services, export them, and get foreign exchange and not depend on oil income,” he said.

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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.

CBN Governor, Mr Yemi Cardoso 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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