The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered the country’s lenders to debit the accounts of all debtors directly.
The CBN gave the directive in a series of guidelines it released Monday and said the operation would commence from August 1, 2020. The guidelines on Global Standing Instruction (GSI), the regulator said, are expected to help banks debit loan defaulters without recourse to the account owners.
CBN, in its guidelines, defined a GSI transaction as “All balance inquiry, debit and credit activity that results when a Creditor bank attempts recovery using GSI”.
“The GSI shall serve as a last resort by a Creditor bank, without recourse to the Borrower, to recover past due obligations (Principal and Accrued Interest only, excluding any Penal Charges) from a defaulting Borrower through a direct set-off from deposits/investments held in the Borrower’s qualifying bank accounts with participating financial institutions,” CBN further explained.
According to the central bank, the objectives of this order are to facilitate an improved credit repayment culture; reducing Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) in the nation’s banking industry, and watch-listing consistent loan defaulters.
The CBN has set a limit of 5% non-performing loans for the country’s banks. A rise in NPLs was one of the factors that crippled Nigeria’s financial system during the global financial crisis of 2008-9.
CBN listed the types of accounts that qualify for GSI as individual Savings Accounts; Individual Current Accounts; Individual Domiciliary Accounts; Investment/Deposit Accounts (Naira and Foreign Currency), and Electronic Wallets.
In the execution of the GSI, the central bank identifies roles for all the parties involved: the lenders, the customers, and the CBN itself.
It said the lenders’ debtors are to execute a GSI mandate in hard copy or digital form and ensure that the terms and conditions of the mandate are clearly understood before execution. They are also to ensure that all qualifying accounts are linked to his/her BVN.
Where a borrower’s qualifying account is not linked to his or her BVN, the regulator said: “such a BVN shall be Watch-Listed”.
For the creditor banks, they are to educate their customers properly about the GSI mandate as well as its implications and going forward enshrine these rules in their loan application processes.
To further guard against loan default, the central bank ordered the banks to review and validate the GSI mandate instrument prior to loan disbursement.
BUA Cement, one of West Africa’s largest Cement companies, says it is set to establish a three-million metric ton cement plant and 50 megawatts power plant in Guyuk and Lamurde local governments of Adamawa state in the North-Eastern region of Nigeria. This was revealed when the Chairman of BUA, Abdul Samad Rabiu, led the BUA Cement Management team on a courtesy call to the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in the Government House, Yola.
Speaking during the visit, Rabiu said preliminary findings showed that the two local governments of Guyuk and Lamurde were reputed to have good quality of limestone deposits and that BUA Cement was ready to begin the investment in the state. He added that the BUA would use new technologies to supply power to the proposed cement plant and communities, in addition to providing three thousand direct and five thousand indirect jobs.
The Chairman stressed that the Guyuk Cement Plant will be the major investment in the North-East by BUA and solicited the support of Governor Fintiri to set up the factory in Guyuk. Rabiu said the company made a decision to source its raw materials locally and had invested billions of dollars in various sectors across Nigeria and therefore urged the state government to support BUA to actualize the Guyuk Cement project. In addition, he praised the commitment of the governor within one year in office in many sectors of development despite the economic challenges in Adamawa.
Responding, Governor Fintiri said his administration's effort in exploring local contents had started yielding results and thanked BUA for showing interest in establishing the cement plant in Guyuk. He further assured the management team of BUA that government would make whatever is needed and provide the necessary support which will create enabling environment so that the BUA Cement company in Guyuk will become a reality.
He also expressed the readiness of the government to protect the investment once it is established and told them that his administration will maintain a good relationship with the company for the benefit of the state.
BUA is Nigeria’s second-largest Cement Producer by volume with cement plants in Sokoto and Edo States. The Company’s newest plant in Sokoto is expected to be operational in 2021. When completed, the Guyuk Cement Plant will bring BUA’s total capacity to 14million metric tonnes per annum.
In The Spotlight
The ongoing crisis in the Ondo State House of Assembly rooted in the bid to remove the Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, who defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has once again highlighted the incontrovertible diagnosis that there can be no democracy without democrats. The crisis has already consumed the majority leader Suleiman Maito, who resigned his position in protest against the move to remove the deputy governor. Three other casualties - Deputy Speaker, Ogundeji Iroju (Odigbo 1), Adewale Williams (Ondo West II) and Semilore Tomomewo (Ilaje II) have been suspended. The APC also expelled Success Torukerijoh (Ese Odo) for opposing the planned sack of Ajayi. Many more heads are expected to roll as the crisis unfolds.
Iroju has accused Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and Ondo state APC chairman, Ade Adetimehin, of masterminding their suspension because of their refusal to back the removal of the deputy governor. Expectedly, Akeredolu has denied any involvement but suffice to say this brigandage is a pointer to the abysmal political leadership in Ondo and its immaturity. Trying to emasculate lawmakers is totally against all known norms of political decency and a meaningless show of executive power. As Akeredolu mounts his assault on democracy as he faces re-election, it is trite to say the hapless Ondo people deserve an apology for being so disappointed by a governor to whom much has be given; and from whom much is expected.
The act that built up the drama to this crescendo is public knowledge. The standing view is that Akeredolu, against good advice, made a profound political miscalculation and error of judgment in overreacting to the defection of the deputy governor to the PDP, where he has been cleared to contest the July 22 PDP gubernatorial primary election against 11 other candidates. Despite official denials, it is an open secret that Akeredolu who has suffered a rash of resignations from his cabinet and close aides is facing the real possibility of losing the primary election; with an even greater prospect of losing the general election against Ajayi; the potential PDP flagbearer. No one is fooled when Akeredolu and his handlers say the governor has no hands in the happenings in the Assembly. In the present circumstance, Akeredolu might leave office with the stigma of leaving behind a crisis ridden House of Assembly.
The crisis is another display of executive lawlessness that offends the sensibilities of Nigerians and raises fundamental questions about the average Nigerian’s definition and perception of political office. The situation is nothing but a manifestation of the deepening culture of impunity that has held the country hostage. It is bewildering because it is happening under a supposedly democratic dispensation. For the avoidance of doubt, Akeredolu and Ajayi were both elected on the same ticket; and the law does not mandate that their continuous stay in office on their membership of the APC on whose platform they were elected. The watch phrase should be that a man might leave a position, but the institution stays, having entrenched the right culture and ethos.
Akeredolu remain addicted to do-or-die politics. In the wake of Ajayi’s defection to the PDP, the deputy governor was prevented from leaving government house using his official car; as if to say he stopped being the elected deputy governor of Ondo state because he resigned his membership of the APC. The fact that the police held Ajayi hostage in his office until past midnight is unacceptable and should be treated as a serious breach of the law. After over 20 years of democratic experiment, there should be no more room for such conducts. This impunity must not be allowed to stand and it is just as well that Ajayi has written an open letter to the chief judge of the state, advising her not to compromise the integrity of her office in the move by the Assembly to remove him.
In the open letter entitled: “Uphold the Integrity of Your Office” and signed by his media adviser, Allen Sowore, Ajayi said in an ideal democracy, all power, especially state power must be exercised under the law and according to the dictates of the law. According to him, as the chief judge of Ondo State, the move by Akeredolu to remove him from office through the Assembly should give her a vital opportunity to uphold the integrity of Ondo State judiciary and its independence. “It’s needless mentioning the level of desperation, which Mr. Governor has shown on this vexatious matter because history already has a place for his hypocritical stance in the law profession being a former president, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA). But your lordship, you have a name and integrity to protect. The cerebral Chinua Achebe once said that: ‘One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.’
On the face of it, Akeredolu, even before he was governor; has been a successful lawyer and should know the legal implications of a breach of the relevant laws and regulations. Nonetheless, holders of public office are so entrusted with the justified expectation of the public that they act at all times in an exemplary manner that sustains trust and respect. It is more than a matter of the letter of the law: it is, above all else, a moral issue. Akeredolu has understandably come under fire for his needless display of ostentation and conspicuous consumption in the face of the raging poverty in Ondo state. Specifically, within the last two years, Akeredolu has celebrated the weddings of his children broad, in Canada, USA and Mauritius, without any sense of respect to the Ondo people who continue to languish in poverty.
Undoubtedly, Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is a successful lawyer and former president of the Nigerian Bar Association and is undeniably a man of means. The jury is out whether the governor and his cabinet and close friends and family members attended these weddings abroad at their own expense. But few would argue that organizing the weddings of his children in Akure or Owo or any other town would certainly have boosted the economy of that environment. Imagine the value-chain those weddings would add to the local economy of whichever town hosts the wedding. Why take the local wealth to expend in foreign lands? Is this a judicious way of spending money instead of holding the events here in Nigeria? We think not.
Rather, it is insensitive to the point of bad taste and even provocative that a man like Akeredolu who is elected to serve and improve the lot of Nigerians in Ondo would not see the impropriety in flaunting wealth to the face of the suffering masses. This is even more pathetic as his government owes billions to Ondo pensioners. The Ondo chapter chairman of the National Union of Pensioners, Adedapo Salami was quoted as revealing that the government owed N50 billion in pensions and gratuities since 2011 besides not implementing the 33% increase to the pensioners. What is more, Ondo State government has not settled all the inherited salary arrears from the Mimiko’s administration.
High public office demands moral leadership. Indeed, the most effective leaders are those who lead by example with moral authority. When the governor of a not-so-rich state as Ondo displays affluence and disdain for his own people, it is his moral leadership that is impugned. And Akeredolu should worry because he leads a generally well-educated, perspicacious and bold people. The great people of Ondo have a history of not condoning betrayal of public trust. Under Akeredolu, the culture of service to the people, which appreciates that after politics comes governance, has taken flight as the governor is now abusing the instruments of state power to emasculate his political opponents as he fights for his own political survival. Akeredolu is one governor the people of Ondo should never have had and the signs herald the end to a career politician, who has lived on the system instead of living for it. There is a time for everything. Whenever democracy is under assault, all Nigerians of conscience must stand up and defend it. The time to rise in defence of democracy in Ondo is now!
In The Spotlight
SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during fall 2020 semester
WASHINGTON – The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced modifications Monday to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the fall 2020 semester. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to publish the procedures and responsibilities in the Federal Register as a Temporary Final Rule.
Temporary exemptions for the fall 2020 semester include:
1. Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.
2. Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Eligible F students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.
3. Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools adopting a hybrid model—that is, a mixture of online and in person classes—will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online. These schools must certify to SEVP, through the Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” certifying that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program. The above exemptions do not apply to F-1 students in English language training programs or M-1 students pursing vocational degrees, who are not permitted to enroll in any online courses.
Schools should update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) within 10 days of the change if they begin the fall semester with in-person classes but are later required to switch to only online classes, or a nonimmigrant student changes their course selections, and as a result, ends up taking an entirely online course load. Nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes. If students find themselves in this situation, they must leave the country or take alternative steps to maintain their nonimmigrant status such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.
Due to COVID-19, SEVP instituted a temporary exemption regarding online courses for the spring and summer semesters. This policy permitted nonimmigrant students to take more online courses than normally permitted by federal regulation to maintain their nonimmigrant status during the COVID-19 emergency.
F-1 nonimmigrant students pursue academic coursework and M-1 nonimmigrant students pursue vocational coursework while studying in the United States.