Anti-hate speech, social media bills protests rock N’Assembly

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CAPITAL MARKET
Bank, oil & gas stocks drag market N72bn lower
Published November 28, 2019

Feyisayo Popoola

Banking and oil and gas stocks have further dragged the market lower, shedding N72bn as the market capitalisation of equities dropped to N12.930tn on Wednesday.

The market capitalisation of equities, which increased to N13.049tn on Monday, dropped to N12.975tn on Tuesday, and N12.930tn on Wednesday, bringing the total losses recorded in three days to N119bn.

Analysts at Afrinvest Securities Limited said the bearish outcome on Wednesday was due to major losses in FBN Holdings Plc, Access Bank Plc and Dangote Cement Plc as the All Share Index fell by 35 basis points to close at 26,790bps.

Activity level weakened as volume and value traded fell by 9.6 per cent and 52.2 per cent to 189.860 million units and N1.5bn, respectively.

The most traded stocks by value were Transnational Corporation Plc (26.3 million units), Zenith Bank Plc (22.5 million units) and Chams Plc (18.9 million units) while Zenith Bank (N416.4m), Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (N207.1m) and MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (N120.3m) led by value.

Performance across sectors was largely bearish as four indices recorded losses.

The insurance and AFR-ICT indices gained following buying interest in Wapic Insurance Plc, Aiico Insurance Plc, AXA Mansard Insurance Plc and Airtel Africa Plc.

On the flip side, the oil and gas index topped laggards, losing 1.1 per cent on the back of a major price decline in Oando Plc, while sell-offs in Access Bank, Sterling Bank and Cadbury Nigeria Plc dragged the banking and consumer goods indices down by 0.5 per cent and 0.2 per cent, respectively.

The industrial goods index declined by 0.08 per cent due to losses in Dangote Cement.

Investor sentiment weakened as market breadth (advance/decline ratio) fell to 0.7x from the 1.0x recorded on Tuesday as 19 stocks gained against 26 losers.

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Analysts at Afrinvest said they expected a mixed performance for the rest of the week.

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BANK MARKET N72BN LOWER OIL & GAS STOCKS

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FEATURED
No border reopening, until Benin, others respect protocols – FG
Published November 28, 2019

John Ameh, Abuja

The Federal Government admitted on Wednesday that its temporary policy to close land borders was responsible for the current rising inflation in the country.

But it still defended the closure, insisting that it would remain in place until the country’s neighbours learnt to respect trade protocols.

The FG said it had to close borders because Nigeria could not continue to subsidise economies of her neighbours.

Nigeria had in August closed its land borders on the grounds that smuggling of goods from its neighbouring countries was hurting its economy.

On November 4, the Federal Government listed five conditions for reopening the country’s land borders.

As one of the conditions, the government said Nigeria would not accept imported goods that were repackaged by neigbouring countries and brought to Nigeria.

But since the border closure, headline inflation rose to 11.61 per cent as of October from the 11.24 per cent recorded in September.

On Wednesday, Ahmed told State House correspondents that inflation rose due to hikes in food prices arising from the closure of the borders.

She was responding to questions after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting ended in Abuja.The FEC meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, the minister stated that the border closure was a temporary measure adopted by the government to protect the economy against trade malpractices by neighbouring countries and would be reopened when all of Nigeria’s demands were met.

She gave details, “On inflation, headline inflation declined every month for several months before we noticed an optic in the last two months. And now, headline inflation is at about 11:61 per cent as of the end of October.

“The slight increase in this inflation between September and October is due to food inflation. The food inflation relates to prices of cereals, rice and fish. And part of the reason is the border closure.

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“But, the border closure is very, very short and temporary and the increase is just about two-basis point. Remember, there was a time inflation was nine per cent and it grew to about 18 per cent in January 2017 when we were in recession.

“The relationship between inflation, interest rate and growth is managed by the monetary authorities and is a management that is tracked on a regular basis.

“So, if you reduce interest rate, you expect more borrowing for investments in the real sector. But, at the same time, that also has the tendency of reducing money that is used for consumption on a day to day basis.

“So, it is a balance that we continue to watch on a regular basis. We expect that this will be moderated as border closure impact fizzles out and also as the monetary authorities continue to support the MPR (monetary policy rate), therefore ensuring that interest rates are not on the high side.”

Ahmed insisted that the government had little choice but to shut the borders else Nigerians would suffer the economic consequences, especially now that the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement was coming into effect.

“What we are doing is important for our economy. We signed up to the ACFTA; we have to make sure that we put in place checks to make sure that our economy will not be overrun as a result of the coming into effect of the ACFTA.

“That is why we have this border closure to return to the discipline of respecting the protocols that we all committed to”, the minister added.

On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, explained that the gains of the border closure outweighed any other impact it might have caused, adding that Nigeria was subsidising the rest of West Africa.

He argued that the practice of importing goods into neighbouring West African countries and re-packaging them for Nigeria to look as if they were manufactured in such countries was not healthy for Nigeria’s economy.

Mohammed disclosed that up till Tuesday this week, Nigeria and and its neighbours were still engaged in discussions on why it was important for all the parties to respect the ECOWAS trade protocol on transit of goods.

He said, “The border closure, frankly speaking, is what we needed to do and we had to do it. We cannot continue to subsidise the rest of West Africa. And the benefits for border closure for me, I think far surpass the very little increase in inflation.

“We have been able to save about 30 per cent from our fuel consumption, which means that over time we have been subsidising the fuel consumption of other countries. Within the last three months, we have been able to increase by 15 per cent, duties collected from imports.

“Within the same period, we have been able to drastically reduce the volumes of arms and ammunition that have been coming into the country through smuggling, ditto with illicit drugs.

“All Nigeria is saying is, please, let’s respect the protocol on transit. ECOWAS set up a protocol on transit of goods, which is very simple. If a container meant for Nigeria is dropped in Cotonou, the authorities in Benin Republic should escort the container to the customs in Seme border, and that way proper duty will be levied and will be paid.

“But, on the contrary, what we have seen happening over the years is that our neighbours will put about five containers on one truck and drive them to the border as if it is only one container that they are going to pay duties on. Worse still, less than even 50 per cent of what is meant for Nigeria will come through the approved border.”

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7′

FEATURED
Anti-hate speech, social media bills protests rock N’Assembly
Published November 28, 2019

Sunday Aborisade, Leke Baiyewu and Abiodun Nejo

Scores of protesters made up of civil society groups and students besieged the National Assembly complex on Wednesday and asked the federal lawmakers to drop the anti-social media and the hate speech bills which were at various stages in the nation’s parliament.

The protesters armed with placards containing various inscriptions such as ‘What are we saying?, Say no to social media bill,’ ‘What are we demanding? Say no to hate speech bill.’

There was a heavy security build up between 8am and about 12noon when the protesters ended the protest.One of the leaders of the civil society group, Henry Shield, told journalists that the protest was to register their opposition to the two bills.

Shield argued that there were laws in Nigeria which could adequately and sufficiently deal with the issues alluded to in the bills.

The protesters were addressed by senators Oseni Yakubu and Uba Sani.

The lawmakers said they had the mandate of the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to speak to the protesters.

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