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FirstBank to Empower 500 Widows through its SPARK Initiative

The desire of FirstBank is to scale up the empowerment to 500 widows before the end of the year with its SPARK initiative.

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As part of activities marking the 2019 First Bank of Nigeria Limited Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week (CR&S) the Bank has empowered 125 widows as identified by the International Women Society (IWS) vis-à-vis their initiative for widows – Widows Trust Fund – with funding to grow their micro-medium scale businesses. However, the desire of the Bank is to scale up the empowerment to 500 widows before the end of the year.

Speaking at the 125 widows’ endowment empowerment programme in commemoration of FirstBank 125th Anniversary, the Group Executive, International Banking Group (ITBG), First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Bashirat Odunewu, said the Bank’s partnership with IWS was designed to further the empowerment of women, especially widows.

She also stated that the CR&S week themed: ‘Ripples of Kindness; You First’ reflects the brand promise to always put its stakeholders first and is designed to offer employees and other stakeholder, opportunities to give their time and resources to defined causes.

[READ THIS: FirstBank Joins other Internal Auditors across Africa to Promote Risk Management Efficiency]

Odunewu, who was represented at the event by the Business Development Manager (ITBG), First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Kunle Olorunfemi explained that as part of the Bank’s employee giving and volunteering programme, the week focuses on wide range of activities under the SPARK (Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness) initiative, which include partnership with IWS for the empowerment of widows, as well as visit and donations to orphanage/less privileged homes, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and deepening the values of SPARK amongst school children.

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According to Odunewu, “A world without active collaboration amongst people, organisations, nations and regions is inconceivable. We are here because of our collective desire to pursue synergies that would generate progress for us and future generations. That is the focal piece of sustainability. I am, therefore, optimistic that this partnership will help drive sustainable development.

“At FirstBank the partnership amongst people and stakeholders have sustained us for over 125 years. As you might be aware our impact traverses virtually every sector of the economy. This indeed resonates our 125 anniversary theme ‘Woven into the Fabric of Society’

“Such partnerships have also provided the opportunity for us to help create an enabling platform for Small and Medium Enterprises to thrive and develop the national economy.

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“The partnership with International Women Society is designed to advance social and economic impact by providing capital and capacity building for women running small businesses including widows.

“We believe that a committed, well-funded and well implemented partnership with International Women Society will enhance our goals as a responsible corporate citizen which include focusing on empowering women and nation building.

“The partnership with International Women Society is also in line with the Bank’s financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment policy which promotes accessible and affordable financial products and services to disadvantaged groups with the goal of bringing these marginalized populations into the mainstream economy, improving their chances for resilient livelihoods and financial stability.

“In partnering with International Women Society, by providing opportunities for widows in areas of capacity building and access to start-up capital, the Bank advances social and economic impact,” he concluded.

[KEEP READING: Adeduntan, Firstbank MD headlines University of Ibadan maiden graduate career fair]

About FirstBank: First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) is the premier Bank in West Africa and the leading banking services solutions provider in Nigeria for 125 years. With some 15 million customer accounts, FirstBank provides a comprehensive range of retail and corporate financial services with over 750 business locations. The Bank has international presence through its subsidiaries, FBN Bank (UK) Limited in London and Paris, FBNBank in the Republic of Congo, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Senegal, as well as a Representative Office in Beijing.

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Since its establishment in 1894, FirstBank has consistently built relationships with customers focusing on the fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and leadership. Over the years, the Bank has led the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy by playing key roles in the Federal Government’s privatisation and commercialisation schemes. With its global reach, FirstBank provides prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities that are available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand and a credible financial partner.

[READ FURTHER: FirstBank partners Azuri Technology to promote sustainable development in Nigeria]

FirstBank has been named “Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria” six times in a row (2011 – 2016) by the globally renowned “The Banker Magazine” of the Financial Times Group; “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” for seven consecutive years (2011 – 2017) by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards and “Best Bank in Nigeria” by Global Finance for 15 years. Our brand purpose is to always put customers, partners and stakeholders at the heart of our business, even as we standardise customer experience and excellence in financial solutions across sub-Saharan Africa, in consonance with our brand vision “To be the partner of first choice in building your future”. Our brand promise is to always deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence. This commitment is anchored on our inherent values of passion, partnership and people, to position You First in every respect.

Signed by Folake Ani-Mumuney

Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications

www.firstbanknigeria.com

Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored content.

NM Partners represent articles published in paid partnerships with corporate organisations. They include press releases, targeted content, and other forms of corporate communications on behalf of our Paid Partners.

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Hospitality & Travel

Hotels in Nigeria are on the verge of collapse

Hotels in Nigeria are on the verge of collapsing following rising operating costs

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Transcorp-Hilton

Big hotels in Nigeria are facing an existential crisis that could force some of them to collapse on the weight of rising operating expenses, without any revenue to absorb.

Reports from four of the major listed hotels on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, reveals a revenue decline of nearly 90%, due to a fall out of the COVID-19 induced lockdowns. The dire state of their financials has forced some of the hotels to consider massive job cuts, and cost reduction measures in a bid to survive. For most of them, it is either they take drastic actions, or face the consequences associated with piling losses and unpaid debts.

Since the breakout of COVID-19 in March 2020; the FG approved locked down in Abuja and Lagos State, forced all the major hotels to shut down, a bitter sacrifice by the hospitality sector, as the government sought to contain the spread of the virus.

The lockdown effect on the results of these companies is reflective in the Q2 results of the main listed companies. According to the data, Ikeja Hotels (Sheraton), Tourist Company of Nigeria (Federal Palace), Capital Hotels (Abuja Sheraton), and Transcorp Hilton Hotel Plc have all lost 90% of their revenue in the three months preceding June 2020.

The hotels earned a combined revenue of N1 billion in the quarter, compared to N10.2 billion in the corresponding period of 2019. They are all wallowing in losses of over N4.7 billion for the quarter alone. Combined, they have about 3,502 employees as of 2019.

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The situation in the hospitality sector is not only restricted to these four hotels. The same can be said for tens of other major hotels in Nigeria. In the latest Q2 GDP report published by the Bureau of Statistics; the Accommodation and food services business, which hotels belong to, recorded a GDP contraction of over 40%. Except for transportation and storage, which posted a 49% contraction, it is by far the worst in the country.

The Managing Director, Transcorp Hotels Plc, Mrs. Dupe Olusola, disclosed this during a Press Conference on Thursday, “The impact of COVID-19 on the business is like nothing the company has ever witnessed. The hotel and hospitality industry in Nigeria has never faced a crisis that brought travel to a standstill, including the Ebola Virus outbreak of 2014 or the recession of 2016. The slow pick up of international travel, restriction on large gatherings, the switch to virtual meetings, and fear of the virus, has drastically reduced demand for our hotels and occupancy levels to its lowest – less than 5%.”

Hotels across Africa also face a similar fate, but could likely fair better when the dust settles. Unlike in Nigeria, hotels in Kenya, Egypt, and even South Africa can rely on local tourism to drive occupancy rates. But in Nigeria, locals prefer smaller mushrooms hotels that are cheaper, and often well-furnished to meet their needs. Nigerian hotels on the other hand rely on commercial room sales, driven by the influx of business and leisure travels into the country.

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With several airlines yet to fully operate due to reciprocal bans, it is highly unlikely that things will improve anytime soon.

How to avoid a collapse

To avoid an imminent collapse, the hotels need to do what is required in times like these. Explore new sources of revenues, and drastically reduce overheads. For starters, furloughing headcount will be top on the table, as services of employees who have no one to serve won’t be currently required.

It is a tough decision to make for these hotels, considering that the employees that will be affected, face an even worse outlook due to the economic crunch, which is likely to remain for years to come. Mrs. Olusola of Transcorp provides a first-hand insight,

“Despite the losses incurred, we have fulfilled our obligations to staff. At the inception of the pandemic, we maintained a 100% salary payment to our over 900 employees in March and April. We also activated various cost-saving initiatives, such as renegotiations of service contracts and restructuring of our loans. We suspended further commitment to buy fixed assets and operating equipment, as well as reduced our energy consumption and maintenance costs. Despite undertaking these, it has become apparent that more fundamental changes need to be made, for the business to survive. To this end, our workforce headcount will be reduced by at least 40%, and our reward system will be optimized.”

Hotels also need to cut down on other overheads. Food costs would have to be reined in, while also renegotiating inefficient pricing on purchase orders. Hotels will also have to renegotiate bank loans and explore capital raising efforts, to avoid further damage to their balance sheets. Lobbying a cash strapped government may seem futile, but hotel owners should push for intervention loans from the central bank, giving them enough buffer and financial stability to weather the storm.

With hotels reopening gradually, there is likely going to be stiff competition among the big brands, tempting them to undercut each other through pricing. Rather than cut prices, the prices should be adjusted on the naira side, to cater to the effect of the recent devaluation. This means foreign visitors will not witness a dollar increase in room rates, whilst the hotels will earn more on the naira side to deal with inflation.

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These are the plausible and painful options available to branded hotel operators, if they are to avoid a collapse. Without bailouts and government support, management of these hotels needs to take urgent action, to reduce the impairments of shareholder valuations.

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Business

FEC approves $1.96 billion for Kano-Niger Republic railway

The Federal Government has approved the sum of $1.96billion for the construction of Kano-Maradi railway.

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railway, FEC approves $1.96 billion Kano-Niger Republic, FEC approves N727 billion budget increment

The Federal Executive Council has approved the disbursement of $1.96 billion, for the railway line from Kano in Nigeria to Maradi in Niger Republic. The President will also commission the Warri-Itakpe standard gauge rail line, running through Kogi, Edo and Delta States.

This was announced by the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, on Wednesday evening.

Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data

Media aide to the President, Ajuri Ngelale, said, “The rail line will connect 3 states: Kano, Katsina & Jigawa. It moves from Kano to Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, terminating in Maradi, Niger Republic. This financially empowers Nigeria as the import/export hub for Niger.”

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READ: NNPC to support alternative energy initiative by deploying CNG plants across the country

READ: Lagos-Ibadan Railway: NRC acquires 24 coaches for operations starting next month

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Nairametrics reported in June, that China is set to approve the sum of $5.3 billion for the construction of the Ibadan-Kano rail line.

“The Chinese government and people have been very helpful to Nigeria. They have released $1.6 billion for Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway (SGR). They’ve agreed to approve and we hope that by October, they should be able to approve the $5.3 billion for the Federal Government so that we can commence and complete construction of Ibadan-Kano railway,” Rotimi Amaechi said.

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Economy & Politics

FAAC disburses N696.2 billion in July 2020, as Lagos State parts with N1.46 billion  

The sum of N696.18 billion to the Federal, State, and Local governments in July 2020 from the FAAC account.

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States lose N35.51 billion to bail-out , FAAC disburses N650.8 billion as South-South states receive highest share

The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), disbursed the sum of N696.18 billion to the Federal, State, and Local governments in July 2020, from the revenue generated in the month of June 2020. This was stated in the latest FAAC report, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). 

According to the report, the monthly disbursement increased by 27.2% compared to N547.3 billion shared in June, and 14.8% increase compared to N606.2 billion disbursed in May 2020. 

READ: Nigeria total public debt hits N31 trillion as debt service gulp over N1.2 trillion in H1 2020 

Checks by Nairametrics research, shows that a total of N4.58 trillion has been shared to the three tiers of government, between January and July 2020. Highest disbursement was recorded in April (N780.9 billion), followed by N716.3 billion in January 2020. 

Meanwhile, Lagos State – the economic hub of Nigeria, parted with N1.46 billion as external debt deductions in the month, indicating a total of N9.74 billion deductions between January and July 2020. 

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Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data

Breakdown 

  • The amount disbursed in July comprised of N474.53 billion from the Statutory Account, N128.83 billion from Valued Added Tax (VAT), N42.83 billion from Exchange Gain Differences, and Distribution of N50 billion from Non-Oil Revenue for the Month. 
  • Federal Government received a total of N266.13 billion from the total disbursement. States received a total of N185.77 billion, and Local Governments received N138.97 billion. 
  • The sum of N28.50 billion was shared among the oil producing states as 13% derivation fund. 
  • Revenue generating agencies such as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) received N6.32 billion, N15.05 billion, and N2.68 billion respectively as cost of revenue collections. 

READ: Nigeria considers request for debt relief as debt stock climbs

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South-South scoops highest share 

The South-South region, also known as the Niger Delta region, received the highest share of the disbursement in the month of July. The region received a sum of N49.44 billion, representing 25.4% of the total net allocation for states. 

This is largely because the region contributes mostly to crude oil production in Nigeria, which is a significant source of revenue for the federation. Out of the six states in the region, only Cross River State is not an oil producing state. Hence, Rivers, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Delta States received a total of N24.28 billion as part of 13% oil derivation fund.  

North-West region received N36.83 billion (18.9%); followed by North-Central region, which received a net total of N30.69 billion (15.8%). Others include South-West (N29.55 billion), North-East (N26.32 billion), and South-East (N21.97 billion). 

READ: Fidelity Bank to raise N50 billion in bonds in Q4 to refinance existing debts

External debt deductions 

A total of N4.47 billion was deducted from the state’s allocation, as external debt deductions for the month of July. Lagos State parted with the highest amount of N1.46 billion, representing 32.6% of the total debt deductions in the month. A sum of N9.74 billion has been deducted as a result of external debt obligations between January and July 2020. 

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READ: Investors flee Nigerian Stocks as FDI and FPI dips

It is worth noting that, the State’s external debt has declined by 9.67%, from $1.39 billion recorded as at the end of December 2019 to $1.26 billion in June 2020. 

Others on the list of top 5 deductions are, Kaduna (N414.6 million), Oyo (N305.4 million), Rivers (N280.3 million), and Cross River (N222 million). On the flip side, Ogun State parted with the lowest, as N9.1 million was deducted, followed by Borno (N21.6 million), and Taraba (N24.5 million). 

READ: Nigeria’s manufacturing sector contracts for 5th consecutive month – CBN 

Upshot 

  • With dwindling federally collected revenue, caused by volatility in global crude oil price and economic downtrend caused by COVID-19 pandemic, it is evident that federal allocations will likely face drastic decline, which is a cue for the State governments to strategize on more creative ways of generating revenue internally.  
  • A quick check at the states’ IGR numbers, shows that 91.9% of the states in Nigeria with the exception of Abuja, Ogun, and Lagos States rely more on federal allocation, as against internally generated revenue. 
  • This implies that several states in Nigeria are technically bankrupt without debt financing, and Federal Government monthly allocation. 

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