COVID-19: Food Scarcity Hits South East

COVID-19: Food Scarcity Hits South East

By Christian Nwokocha

OWERRI – The commando approach by Governors and security op­eratives who perhaps wish to stop Coronavirus from spreading to any of the states in the South East zone of Nigeria has created needless panic on the side of the people and state of confusion in the management of the lockdown order by the authorities in the area.

Governors who did not make adequate plan before the lockdown order are already behind schedule since they are yet to unveil their palliative plans, create information centres and give trusted direction on what the people should do in the midst of food scarcity and imminent malnutrition.

The unnecessary pandemonium against COVID-19 which started in December 2019 in faraway China Republic, has caused food scarcity, starvation and malnutrition in most families and communities that often pride itself as farmers within the South East.

The unwarranted intimidation, flogging of farmers and food ven­dors who wish to supply food items to cities and communities by securi­ty operatives particularly the Nige­rian Army personels are worsening the state of starvation in the South East.

The mandatory self-isolation ordered by states and the Federal Government apparently meant to prevent the spread of the dreaded disease Coronavirus has created starvation in the region, just as the authorities seem to have forgotten that most Nigerians including the people of the South East live on a day pay job and cannot afford to store food items for more than 24 hours.

News reports have it that both the lowest and middle in­come earners in the area are not used to food storage and those who have food storing capacity do not have food storing facilities. Reports had it that this same situation was partly responsible to food scarcity in most families and communities across the South East.

Speaking exclusively with a mid­dle age civil servant and a mother of six children in Owerri, Imo State Mrs Patience Echeruo, she described the total lockdown as frightful and wondered how she would survive with her children.

“The money to feed my children is no longer the problem, but the food to buy is now the issue. We have finished all the food I stored in the house. I thought the problem will not be as bad as it is today. In­adequate public power supply has made it difficult for us to store food for a long time.

“Prices of food have increased since the market cannot open. A bag of rice if you see it anywhere costs about N37,000, a paint of gari is now N2000 against N500 being the previous cost. The money and food which I planned for one week finished in three days. We cannot find fish, egg and meat to buy. The situation is worrisome because my children must eat food”.

Also in Owerri, reports had it that women from Akwakuma Au­tonomous community in Owerri North Local Government Area who had gari and other grains for buyers were stopped at the Amakohia Fly­over by the security operatives. They were intimidated and commanded to go back to where they are coming from.

In Anambra State, DAILY INDE­PENDENT gathered that the border closure between the state and Delta State particularly at the River Niger bridge has prevented farmers and food vendors from supplying gari in their usual loaded trucks into the state.

It was further gathered that yams, plantains, rice and other food items from Enugu were blocked from en­tering the state.

A community leader and former President General of Ikenga Ogidi Union in Anambra State, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Obianagha warned that unless palliative measures are put in place urgently to cushion the effect of the lockdown adopted by major­ity of states in Nigeria, hunger and starvation that faced people during the Civil War will be a child’s play.

Obianagha said a situation where people are forced to stay at home, markets are closed and banks are not working for 14 days spells dare consequences on the populace.

“There must be palliative as happened during the Civil War. Pri­mary schools can be used and vol­unteers recruited to help distribute food items to children. If you wait for parents, hunger will kill a lot of children.”

The State Governor Willie Obia­no promised to provide a minimum of 200 bags of rice each to all Auton­omous communities in the state, just as a paint of gari now costs N1500 against N600 before the total lock­down in the state.

Abia State was also faced with the hard times expected of the total lockdown. The Governor admitted that the livelihood of Abians have been disrupted by the pandemic and unveiled his plans to cushion the ef­fects of the lockdown order.

“As of midnight March 31, 2020, a full lockdown of the state came into effect in line with the notice that had been earlier given to that effect.

“This also entails the closing of all land borders in Abia State for an initial period of 2 weeks subject to weekly reviews as we monitor the situation. Security operatives have been deployed to enforce this direc­tive and ensure full compliance. This is to ensure that carriers of the dis­ease from other states do not bring it into Abia State.

“Mindful of the fact that this pan­demic has disrupted livelihoods of Abians, I have set up a food-security team to work out necessary pallia­tive interventions in case of a pro­longed lock-down. This Committee shall source foodstuff and work out distribution modalities to Abians who critically require them. Rest assured that we are prepared for every eventuality.

“I am glad to note that the Minis­try of Finance has complied with my directive on payment of March 2020 salaries to Civil Servants in Abia State. It is my understanding that as of today, all Civil Servants have been paid while pensions have been sent to banks for crediting of benefi­ciaries after a successful verification exercise.

Fidelity Bank, Gazelle Academy train 200 Sokoto varsity students in skill acquisition

Fidelity Bank, Gazelle Academy train 200 Sokoto varsity students in skill acquisition

Fidelity Bank Plc and Gazelle Academy have trained 200 undergraduates of Sokoto State University (SSU) in the acquisition of skills in fashion design, handsets repair, cocktail and make up.
Speaking at an event in Sokoto Monday, the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Nwankwo, represented by the bank’s Head of Recruitment, Chris Nnawe, said the programme under Fidelity Youth Empowerment Academy Stream 7 (YEa7) is part of the bank’s cooperate social responsibility.
“We in Fidelity bank have targeted programmes on education, environment and youth empowerment. This one you are witnessing today is part of fulfilling our promises to the society,” he said.
Nwankwo said that the programme started in 2016 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, stressing that since then the bank and its partner, Gazelle Academy, have visited more than five higher institutions in the country, as this one is stream 7 of the programme.
According to him, youths were trained to acquire some skills to enable them to be self reliant and also make them to be employers of labour even while in school.
He disclosed that at the end of the training, start packs will be given to each participant to aid him/her to start something of their own, adding that after the undergraduates’ education, they can seek for soft loans from the Small, Medium Enterprise (SMEs) Department of the bank.
On her part, the founder of Gazelle Academy, Mrs Muna Unuozo, said the programme was aimed at equipping the students with skills that they could use while still in school or after graduation.
She said that with the knowledge of the skill acquired, they could fend for themselves even while in school.
Speaking at the event, the Governor of Sokoto State Aminu Waziri Tambuwal thanked Fidelity Bank and Gazelle Academy for chosing the school for the programme.
Tambuwal said that as a responsible government, his administration have prioritized the welfare of the youths in the state.
He enjoined the participants to be focused and concentrate in order to benefit from the training.
Earlier, the Vice-chancellor of the university, Prof. Sani Dangogo, thanked Fidelity Bank and Gazelle Academy for the benevolent gesture, saying the training will go a long way in alleviating the financial burden of the students.
Fidelity Bank disburses N19m Xmas cheer to 13 customers

Fidelity Bank disburses N19m Xmas cheer to 13 customers

Thirteen lucky customers of Fidelity Bank PLC will enjoy their 2019 Christmas bountifully as the bank rewarded them with N19m for being faithful and committed to servicing their accounts. The lucky winners emerged from the Second monthly/ First Bi-monthly draw of the Get Alert in Millions Savings Promo Season 4, which held at the Bank’s Regional Office in Abuja.

There were three categories of winners among the customers: N3m, N2m and N1m, in addition to 18 consolation prizes of television set, generators and refrigerators. The Lagos Regional Office had the highest amount of N6m in total, followed by the North West Region with a total of N4m while Abuja Region had N3m cumulative amount. The South East, South South and South West had N2m each.

One of the lucky winners, Chika Perpetua Maduike from Abuja Regional office, who won N2m, when contacted on phone dismissed the call, but finally made it to the office dancing and rejoicing saying ‘this Christmas will be a special one for me. I did not believe the caller, but later decided to try and see if it was true and I have seen and I am very happy’. She went further to say, “I will advertise Fidelity Bank to everyone and tell them the bank is number one in Nigeria. Fidelity Bank , God bless you and take you to the next level in Jesus name’

Another lucky winner, Olawale Abdulgafar, who won N1m said: “When I was called and told I have won N1m, I was not excited because I thought it was a scam. I quickly rushed to a nearby Fidelity Bank and asked someone I know who said a promo was ongoing and I should go to the Regional office. I am here now and I have seen it is real and I am very happy because this Christmas will be joyous for me. I want to thank Fidelity Bank for keeping their words”.

Speaking earlier, the Managing Director/CEO, Nnamdi Okonkwo said lucky customers of the bank will cart away N120m at the end of the promo in April 2020, pointing out that N15m was won during the first draw in Ibadan and N19m in Abuja, bringing the total to N34m after the second draw. The MD/CEO who was represented by the Regional Bank Head, North West 1, Mannir Ringim said the promo which started in October 2019 was part of its efforts at deepening the Financial Inclusion strategy of the government and ensure more people are financially included.

“As we speak, over 50m Nigerians are financially excluded, which represents about 45 percent of our population and we in Fidelity Bank want to bridge this gap and also encourage more people to embrace savings culture,” the MD/CEO opined.

Shading light on how people can qualify for the draw, Mrs Janet Nnabuko, Head of Savings said both existing and new customers can win by simply topping their account with N10,000 for existing customers or someone opening a new account and building it up to N20,000. She further disclosed that to qualify for the star prize of N3m one needs to build his account to N50,000 while aspiring for the Grand prize of N10m, one only has to grow his account to N200,000.

Abuja Regional Head, Mrs. Vanessa Mordi said the bank was people friendly and remains committed to empowering Small and Medium Enterprises and also supporting individuals with surprise packages like the Get Alert in Millions Savings Promo.

Fidelity Bank SME Forum in pix

Fidelity Bank SME Forum in pix

The Group Head, Strategy & Corporate Transformation, Bank of Industry (BoI), Yinka Adegboye; Divisional Head, Managed SMEs, Fidelity Bank Plc., Osaigbovo Omorogbe; Regional Bank Head (RBH), Yaba-Surulere, Fidelity Bank Plc., Chetachi Ezenagu; Divisional Head, Brand & Communications, Fidelity Bank Plc., Charles Aigbe, at the Fidelity SME Radio Forum held at Inspiration FM in Lagos on Tuesday to create publicity ahead of the forthcoming Fidelity SME Funding Connect. 

Imo secures support of Afreximbank to revamp economy

Imo secures support of Afreximbank to revamp economy

Imo State government has been assured of the support of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) towards revamping the economy of the state.

The president of the bank, Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah, disclosed this during a meeting with officials of Imo State government held at the Winter Conference Hall of Radisson Collection, Moscow, Russia.

The aim of the meeting was for the government to pitch to the bank the development and investment opportunities in the state and the need for an increase in internally generated revenue through Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and public-private partnerships. 

Governor Emeka Ihedioha, in his presentation, while noting the need for improved and structured financial facilities to enable the process of repositioning Imo State, also highlighted key areas his administration intends to revamp, assuring that the faith and confidence of the people in the government has been restored. 

He pointed out the key sectors include agriculture, transportation, electricity, infrastructural rehabilitation .

Also brought to light were the viable and underutilized potentials of the state’s resources such as the maritime sector.

The President of Afreximbank expressed satisfaction with the presentations and demonstrated keen interest in Imo State as the most strategically positioned state in the South-east. He reiterated that Afreximbank was willing to assist the new government to attract Foreign Direct Investments which will lead to an exponential growth of the state’s IGR and GDP.

Prof. Oramah stated that the bank currently has major key players in the maritime sector that will be willing to invest in the commercialization of the Imo State waterways.

Fidelity Bank Grows Profits By 30.6% to N25.1BN

Fidelity Bank Grows Profits By 30.6% to N25.1BN

Proposes Dividend of 11kobo per Share

Fidelity Bank Plc, in a clear demonstration of its resilience and stability, has announced an impressive financial result for the year-ended December 31, 2018. The performance which capped a remarkable year, showed strong growth in Gross Earnings, Profits and other key financial indicators.

The top Nigerian lender which has become the clear leader among Tier 2 banks, posted a 4.8% growth in Gross Earnings from N180.2BN to N188.9BN whilst Profit Before Tax soared by 30.6% to N25.1BN, when compared with the 19.2BN it recorded in 2017.

Profit After Tax grew by 29% from N17,7BN in 2017 to N22.9BN in 2018, whilst Operating Income rose by 13.9% from N85.9BN to N97.2BN. Customer Deposit, which is a measure of consumer confidence rose by 26.3% from N775.2BN to N979.4BN just as Total Assets grew by 24% from N1.4TRN to N1.7TRN.

In other indices, Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) Ratio dropped to 5.7 percent from 6.4 percent in the 2017FY due to a combination of recoveries, loan write-offs and the absolute growth in the loan book. Other Regulatory Ratios remained above the required thresholds with Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) at 16.7 percent and Liquidity Ratio at 39.0 percent.

Buoyed by the strong results, Fidelity Bank is proposing a N3.2BN payout which translated to11 kobo dividend to shareholders.

“We are delighted by our 2018 numbers, which clearly shows a sustained performance trajectory. We are growing our market share with continued traction in our chosen business segments. We recoded double digits growth in interest income on our liquid assets, digital banking, FX and other income lines” said Fidelity Bank CEO, NnamdiOkonkwo.

As seen in recent years, the bank’s digital retail banking approach has continued to yield positive results. Savings recorded its 5th consecutive year of double digit growth with a 27.7 % increase to peak at N228BN.  “Savings accounts for over 23 % of our Total Deposits, an attestation of our increasing market share in the retail segment”, he stated.

Okonkwo was also very enthused with the progress of its digital banking play stating that over 42% of customers are now enrolled on the bank’s mobile/ internet banking products and more than 81 % of total transactions done on digital platforms, resulting in 25% of fee-based income, coming from digital banking.

About Fidelity Bank Plc

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria, with over 4.2 million customers who are serviced across its 240 business offices and various other digital banking channels. The bank has in recent times won accolades as the Best SME Friendly Bank, Best in Mobile Banking and the Most Improved Corporate/Investment Bank among several industry awards and recognitions. The bank was also ranked the 4th Best Bank in the Retail Banking Segment in the 2017 Banking Industry Satisfaction Survey conducted by KPMG.

Focused on select niche corporate banking sectors as well as Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Fidelity Bank is rapidly implementing a digital based retail banking strategy which has resulted in an exponential growth in savings deposits over the last 3 years and a corresponding surge in customer enrolment on the bank’s flagship mobile/internet banking products.