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The real cost of Mounir Gwarzo’s ‘Golden handshake’

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The Administrative Panel of Inquiry  set up to look into allegations against the suspended Director- General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Mounir Gwarzo revealed that 44 staff of the SEC got a ‘Golden handshake’  which amounted to ₦1.7 billion.  The payments were reportedly made without budgetary approval, and in breach of due process.

As part of the Panel’s  recommendation, Gwarzo should be dismissed from service and made to refund the severance package. In addition, he may face the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

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Details of the package 

One of the directors was paid N85.3 million, while the other received N84.6 million. The 12 deputy directors were paid N70.5 million each. The 5 assistant directors got an average of N46 million each.

Gwarzo’s defence

Gwarzo in his defence however stated that the payments were not illegal, but were apporoved by the board. The ‘Golden handshake’ was to enable the commission create room for younger talent.

“When I came into office I realized that the top management was very heavy and we needed to bring incentives for people to take and retire, to create room for fresh energy. Because government had stopped foreign training, we had to use the sub-head for foreign training and vire the funds there to pay the Golden Handshake, which was approved by the Board and the process.”

 

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Kemi Adeosun,
Minister of Finance

Gwarzo while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market Affairs stated that similar payments had been made to his predecessors. If senior officers could have access to payments running into hundreds of millions, then, there is no telling the kind of damage that goes on within the commission.

He denied all forms of wrongdoing insisting that all payments were approved by the Board of the Commission.

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What happens next ?.

Although,Gwarzo, claims he was suspended (and currently being witch hunted), for refusing to halt the forensic audit conducted on the affairs of Oando Plc, Adeosun insists that the suspension was a result of allegations of his misconduct. The Minister of Finance maintains her stance as a move to protect the capital market.

 

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Patricia

Onome Ohwovoriole has a degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Benin and prior to joining Nairametrics in December 2016 as Lead Analyst had stints in Publishing, Automobile Services, Entertainment and Leadership Training. He covers companies in the Nigerian corporate space, especially those listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). He also has a keen interest in new frontiers like Cryptocurrencies and Fintech. In his spare time, he loves to read books on finance, fiction as well as keep up with happenings in the world of international diplomacy. You can contact him via [email protected]

Research Analysis

Covid-19: POS transaction value drops by N96 billion due to lock down in April

Transaction volume and values dropped across major platforms due to the Covid-19 imposed lockdowns.

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PoS transactions hit N3.20 trillion in 2019, as stamp duty rip-off remain , Charges: Current accounts held drops by 4.5 million, as PoS transactions hit N373 billion, Digital payments sustains surge, affirms growth prospects

Total volume of payment transactions across Nigerian payment channels fell by a whopping 26% in April compared to the preceding month. The Nigerian Government imposed a lock down of economic activities in the commercial cities of Lagos, Abuja and Ogun States between March .

The data available were cheque, ATM, POS, E-bills and NIP (interbank transfers) transactions. The CBN data for April excluded other transaction channels such as Web, Mobile, NEFT etc.

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According to provisional data sourced from the central bank, total volume of transactions was 251.9 million in March but dropped to 186.6 million in April, the month of the lockdown. Transaction values also dropped from N12.3 trillion in March 2020 to N7.6 trillion in April 2020 a N4.6 trillion drop or 37.7% drop in transaction value.

The last time Nigeria recorded payment transactions of less than 190 million for the subsets was in February 2018 at 159.9 million.

The impact of the lockdown has been observed in several facets of the economy and is projected to lead the country into a second recession in 4 years. The lockdown was imposed as a counter measure against the rising cases of Covid-19 in the country. However, since the lockdown over 33,000 cases of Covid-19 has been recorded one of the lowest per capita in the world.

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Payment Transaction Volumes and Vaue March vs April 2020
Source; CBN/Nairametrics.

In terms of value, the NIBBS or (NIP) platform remains the dominant form of transferring money by value but suffered a N3.9 trillion drop in transaction values. This perhaps reflects the lockdown of economic activities as most companies who rely on this platform to make transfers operated minimally. Cheque channels even performed worse with only N10.3 billion in transaction value.

POS transactions, which reflects spending pattern of Nigerians via merchant outlets such as supermarkets, retail markets and shops, shopping malls etc. dipped by 26.2% from N368.9 billion in March 2020 to just N272 billion in April 2020. Despite this drop, the value of POS transactions recorded in April appears to be an improvement especially when you consider that average value POS transactions in the whole of 2019 was N267 billion per month.

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Nigerians spent more on food, medical supplies and household items during the lockdown period according to a basic survey conducted by Nairametrics.

Why this matters: Payment transactions are closely monitored by the financial sector participants particularly FinTechs as they form the basis for the billions of naira in fees and commissions earned on transactions. The hugely competitive electronic payment space means players in the sector may have incurred significant drop in earnings in the month of April corresponding with the data from the CBN.

 

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Corporate Press Releases

NSE simplifies investing in the capital market with comic book

StockTown is dedicated to providing financial literacy education to Nigerians.

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The proliferation of dubious investment schemes that often result in loss of money by unsuspecting members of the public continues to make the role of financial literacy imperative. To play its part, Nigeria’s leading bourse, The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE or The Exchange) has issued the second edition of its comic, StockTown, dedicated to providing financial literacy education to Nigerians.

The comic, available in digital format on a dedicated website at www.nse-stocktown.com builds on The Exchange’s advocacy for safe and trusted investment schemes.

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The story picks up from the first edition, following the life of Mora Johnson as she seeks to liberate her family from their financial struggles by investing in the capital market. This second edition highlights some major lessons for potential and existing investors including the need for vigilance in avoiding Ponzi schemes and unregulated investments, whilst advising prospective investors to seek proper guidance before making investment decisions. Readers can look forward to a simplified explanation of the history of the capital market, its evolution over the years, and how anyone can start making investments today in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of StockTown.

Commenting on the importance of this comic book, Head, Corporate Communications, NSE, Olumide Orojimi said, “Investor Education is a priority for us at The Exchange. We have identified the need to empower individuals across all levels to make good financial decisions and better their lives now and in the future. As the investment landscape continues to evolve to accommodate more retail participants, we are excited to leverage new and existing platforms to present investment products and processes in ways that are both appealing and easy to understand, particularly in this new normal. We hope that StockTown becomes a widely-read resource for potential and existing investors, the financially excluded, millennials and the larger public.”

StockTown is just one of the many ways NSE demonstrates its strong commitment to promoting financial literacy in Nigeria. Even amidst the Coronavirus pandemic and the temporary closure of The Exchange’s facilities, NSE continues to host virtual financial literacy workshops with students and young upwardly mobile professionals. Furthermore, The Exchange has hosted several webinars on various products including Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), Green Bonds, and Securities Lending to provide more information to the market on available securities and how to trade them.

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It should also be recalled that NSE is a member of the Financial Literacy Technical Committee of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); as well as the National Finance Inclusion Steering Committee led by the Central Bank of Nigeria with a mandate to reduce the level of financial exclusion in Nigeria to 20%.

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Hospitality & Travel

5th evacuation flight for Nigerians in the US scheduled for July 31; see details

The evacuees are to forward the details of tickets and contact addresses of their next of kin.

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5th evacuation flight for Nigerians in the US scheduled for July 31; see details

The Federal Government has approved the 5th Evacuation flight for Nigerians stranded in the United States of America, for July 31.

According to a tweet from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, the Ethiopian airline, flight number ET547 will leave George Bush international airport Houston, Texas on Friday 31, July 2020 by 16:00 hours and arrive Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos on Saturday 1st August 2020 by 20:00 hours.

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An official statement released by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Atlanta, Georgia in collaboration with other Nigerian missions in the United States of America, states that Nigerians registered with any of the three Nigerian missions in the USA, and interested in boarding the flight, can purchase their one-way tickets.

“The airfare is $1,500 for economy class and $3,000 for business class for adult/child fare, including all taxes, with the usual percentage reduction for infants under 2 years,” it read.

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In addition, the intending evacuees are also expected to forward the details of purchased tickets together with the contact address of their next of kin in Nigeria to the consulate.

READ MORE: FG states international passengers to arrive 5 hours before departure, discloses other protocols

In line with the protocols announced by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, all of the returnees are to present a negative COVID-19 test result (not older than 14 days), and undergo a temperature check before boarding the evacuation flight, and upon arriving Nigeria, are expected to proceed on a 14-day self-isolation.

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In the last couple of months, the federal government, through the ministry of foreign affairs has evacuated hundreds of stranded Nigerians from different countries including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Malaysia, and Thailand.

The returnees bear the cost of their flight tickets and are expected to self-isolate for two weeks, upon their return to Nigeria. Returnees, who receive a clean bill of health after the isolation, are given their passports and allowed to go home.

 

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