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How Solid Minerals Export Trade Can Create Jobs –Olatunji, President, AMEN

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Is the Federal Government looking for magic wand to turn the economy around? If yes, it needs look no further, for the solution is here in its mineral resources.

According to Mr. Seun Olatunji, the Managing Director of S.B. Olatunji Global Nigeria Ltd, a metal exploration and exporting firm, who is also the President of Association of Metal Exporters of Nigeria (AMEN), “the price of one tonne of zinc ore, for instance, is $400. And a container load is 25 tonnes. So, 25 tonnes multiplied by $400, that is $10,000. If one million youths have one container each of these minerals existing in good deposit in Nigeria, one million youths times $10,000. That is one billion dollars per transaction.”

In this interface, Olatunji explained that that is the kind of revenue that would accrue from the trade if government empowers one million people. “Imagine taking one million people from the job market and the revenue government can earn from these one million people that have been empowered. That is a food for thought,” he added.

Excerpts:

Minerals, minerals everywhere

The most exported solid minerals out of the country are metallic minerals. And when we are talking about metallic minerals, we are talking of lead, zinc, manganese, copper, tantalite, to mention just few. That is what forms what becomes the revenue. That is why government should consider it worth their investment and time. This association wants to see the industry where everybody along the value chain has something worthwhile doing. And everybody makes profit, including the government.

How can this be achieved if we don’t have an industry that is well regulated by government; an industry where everybody along the value chain plays according to certain rules? Currently in the industry, a lot of things are done haphazardly. That is one of the reasons we want the government to look into certain issues that bedevil the traders and exporters of solid minerals. One has to do with quality. So far, most of our minerals are being carted away without proper value addition. And what that translates to is a loss of revenue, even to the government.

The government is not going to generate good revenue if these minerals are not processed, at least minimally by pulverisation. We are coming together as an association to let government know that for the industry to grow, the exporters are the key. Without the exporters, the miners, who are actually the producers of these minerals, cannot have a market. So the exporters are the bridge between the miners, who are the producers, and the foreign off-takers because the foreign off-takers first of all interface with export companies most times. So it is important for the exporting companies to let the government see a holistic picture of what happens along the trade chain. From the banks – which is finance – to the quality control standardisation; to the regulation of activities on the mining fields. Today, the Nigerian mining field is such that all manners of people go in and do whatever they like. And that affects the government, in terms of loss of revenue; it affects the indigenous companies’ ability to grow sustainably. And at the end, it leads to unemployment in Nigeria today.

So we are talking about an industry where stakeholders, both in government and private sector, should have a synergy. From CBN, regulation of financial policies, to Customs, to the individual companies, there must be a minimum level of synergy. The association has been able to engage with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in an attempt to engender a proper regulation in the industry. But it was unfortunate that up till now, we have not seen any positive steps taken in that direction. The exporters regulate their exports. That shouldn’t be so. It means that whatever we do is always contested in the foreign territories. Asia is the biggest buyer of these products. These Asian countries have their governments regulating the imports as importers of these solid minerals. Their governments have systems in place that regulate these products coming in. And that is the standard they use to pay us regardless of what we do in Nigeria. So what is our government doing about this? That is where the revenue gap exists. Our vision is to have a market that is well regulated where all the players along the value chain are well compensated for their efforts.

Two, to harness and synergise with government agencies and have a vibrant export of solid minerals that would translate to billions in revenue for the Federal Government. There are payment of royalties to government, payment of possible value addition levies on the individual companies. There are so many channels where the government can tap revenue from the industry. Imagine in a country where we say there is no job and we have natural resources that can be exported at good value. Imagine that the government throws up a programme targeted at one million unemployed youths, empower them to be exporters. Now, what that means conservatively is that if those one million youths do one container of a particular metal or mineral, for instance, what that translates to is that a container average sealed price for the basic base metals go for between $10,000 to $15,000 hypothetically. So multiply the minimum figure of $10,000 by one million youths. That is the kind of revenue that would be generated from that trade by empowering one million people. Imagine taking one million people from the job market, and government earning revenue from the one million people that have been empowered. That is a food for thought. Extrapolate what that means to the growth of the economy.

Still on the metal exporting for unemployed youths. First of all, to give you a figure on what I said previously is a simple mathematics. I will break it down. These figures are coming from our trade as an individual company. These minerals are sold in tonnes just as oil is sold per barrel. A tonne represents 1,000kg. I am giving you a general price. For instance, the price of one tonne of zinc ore is sold at $400 and a container load is 25 tonnes. So, 25 tonnes multiplied by $400, that is $10,000. Now $10,000 for one container multiplied by one million youths put under empowerment programme by government. It is an example for you to see how unemployment can easily be solved. So if one million youths have one container each of these minerals, which are existing in good deposit in Nigeria, so one million youths times $10,000. That is one billion dollars per transaction.

State minerals

Osun State has not been able to pay workers for many months. The state has one of the best; one of the purest deposits of gold in the world. If the Federal Government has allowed states to exploit minerals in their domains, what we expect the government in states like Osun to do is to look for those who have mining licences and strike a deal with them. That way, they will generate money into their coffers. They would not wait for the allocation from the Federal Government. For instance, in Osun State, apart from gold, there are also gem stones and plenty of mica – used for pigment in paint – available there. With those gem stones available, you can create processing centres called Lapidiaries for gem stones cutting and polishing. So instead of exporting the gem stones raw (because gem stones have more value, you can just put a little in your pocket and travel abroad and sell them for millions of dollars), foreigners can come in and buy. And they would come. That is what we are saying, policies that allow the states do this is a good one. But the states, do they have the knowledge and resourcefulness to exploit these minerals?

The vested authority of all the minerals in Nigeria is the Federal Government. The Minister for Solid Minerals (Kayode Fayemi) made it clear that the state cannot operate in an area where a company that had already been issued licence is operating. It is clear. But that doesn’t stop the states from doing collaboration, joint venture like NNPC-Chevron Joint Venture. NNPC-Mobil Joint Venture. These are joint ventures, which means the two sides have come together and struck a deal. That is what the states should be doing.

They don’t necessarily have to open a fresh field. They look for existing players in their domain and strike deals with these people, using government’s powers. We are talking about generating revenue for your state.

Quality control

Cobalt Inspection – this is an agency that inspects the goods leaving Nigeria on behalf of the Federal Government – was nominated by the Federal Government to be the collector of what is called Nigerian Export Proceeds (NXP) form. The principle of the policy is that every exporter of solid minerals pays 0.5 per cent of the FOB (free on board) value. That is the value or the amount you are selling the goods (cost price plus profit) of that particular shipment. That is the charge that Cobalt takes on every export. It collects that money and does nothing. That is the area we expect the government to be enforcing proper rule of engagement. Cobalt is taking money from exporters on NXP. It is the reverse of Form M, which is for import. For export it is called Form NXP. So what are they taking this money for? They are not inspecting the minerals. They only come to the port and take pictures. Now, we have SGS, it is a global inspection company. SGS is in Nigeria, it is not doing mineral inspection in Nigeria. Why? They would tell you that it is a risk for them to do it because it is not crushed; it is not pulverised. We also have Bureau Veritas in Nigeria, same global brand. They are not inspecting these minerals because they say it is not crushed.

You can reason with them in the direction that this thing is not crushed.

Variation can happen at the destination port, which would result in litigation for those companies. I agree. That is why we Nigerians should look inwards and add value to these products by way of crushing them instead of selling them (in) lump. That is why we are emphasising pulverisation, crushing.

Foreign investors

The principal foreigners that play in this metallic solid minerals industry in Nigeria are the Chinese and the Indians. In as much as we want more foreigners to invest in the industry, that should not be at the expense of Nigerian jobs. When we have an unemployment rate that is very high, alarmingly high, we should be encouraging Nigerians to play in the sector.

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Hope rises for Cashew Farmers as new president, Stephen promises to address bottle-necks

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Hope rises for Cashew Farmers as new president, Stephen promises to address bottle-necks

The newly elected National president of Cashew Farmers Association Mr. Ahiaba Stephen has promised to address the four major challenges bedevilling the Association.
Stephen had emerged the national President of the group after the election held at the Cashew House, Ogidibeje Junction, Anyigba in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State, Nigeria on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
This was contained in a statement issued by the media handlers of the association.
According to the statement, Mr. Stephen in his acceptance speech, promised to address four four major issues that pose great challenge to the farmers that includes, the problem of farm gates encroachment and pricing and Multiple taxation.
Others according to him  are Cashew theft within the farm, warehouses and on transit and Cashew seedling production and grafting technology that can increase production and control in Nigeria.
His emergence the statement said elicited hope for a new dawn among members of the association.
“It’s a breath of fresh air with Mr. Ahiaba Stephen at helms of affair as it provides an opportunity for him to bring his wealth of experience in the agro-allied sector of the economy into the workings of the union for the good of all actors.
The statement explained further that, “His leadership promises a robust engagement with all involved in the cashew chain and as it is in his leadership style, everyone will be carried along in decision making as that has always brought him closer to the people he works with and that of the union won’t be different.”

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Tallen challenges women to speak with one voice, be their sisters’ keeper

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Tallen challenges women to speak with one voice, be their sisters’ keeper

The minister of women Affairs Pauline Tallen has challenged the womenfolk to rise up, speak with one voice as well as be their sisters keepers.
Speaking at an event organised by the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN) with the theme: women in leadership and Equality on Thursday in Abuja, she said they should stand to be counted when it comes to being their sisters keepers
“If women can speak in one voice they can decide who becomes the president of Nigeria.”
Tallen was speaking against the backdrop that her counterpart in the ministry of transportation Rotimi Chibuike Ameachi had earlier indicated that though brilliant and intelligent, women are the cause of their own problems.
Ameachi had blamed the womenfolk for the tendency to always pull down their fellow women once they notice any progress coming that is not for them particularly.
Hence, Tallen admonished women,
“So let us change the strategy by loving one another and lifting up one another.
She lamented the deficit of women in the formal sector of the economy however, she encouraged them not to underestimate themselves but asked them to believe they can do anything.
She gave examples of successful women across the globe to include the Nigerian pride in Ngozi Okonjo Iwealla as well as the new Tanzania President.
“You can do more to expand the hands that rock the world.”
Earlier, the National Coordinator of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWN) Mrs Modupe Oyekunle said the network is a coalition of female business and professional associations across Nigeria.

According to her the Network started with 18 associations but as “I speak with you we have 52 associations across Nigeria in the 6 geopolitical zones with about 4million membership under the coalition.
“This coalition was put together by the Center for International Private Enterprise called (CIPE).”
According to her, the center put the together because it recognises the fact that there are primary associations.
“We want everyone to come together for the purpose of advocacy, purpose of policy review, policy development, policy implementation that affect female entrepreneurs across Nigeria and to ensure that we engage the Government.
“This is a democracy and in a democracy the people must participate. This is the reason for the policy dialogue.
“We have a validated research document that we call Our Women Business National Agenda. That our audited research document is part of our discussion at this policy dialogue.
“I am glad to announce to you that the Presidents of the associations are in attendance. We invited ministries and parastatals that would be engaging especially as it regards the five priority areas: “The first area is high rate of insecurity, genda inequality in Governance at all levels, poor dilapidated road network, power and lack of access to finance from a single digit perspective.”

She commended the Government for what it has done thus far, as women are not where they used to be, however she said, “We are very far from where we ought to be.
“As we engage with Government we will put forth our recommendations and ask for what they are going to do.”
She said the network has been in existence for 7 years.
“The coalition was put together seven years ago. Tangeability first is that we have been able to build a coalition none existent before now that is the first one.
“Second one is that we were able to do the first agenda, Women Business and Inter Advocacy Document that had four priority issues and from the four priority issues three were achieved.
“One of it is from the 2016 document, we were able to introduce the genda inequality bill at the floor of the national Assembly. We are glad to say that the Senate has been able through the women that are there to push the bill.
She said, in the next 10 years the association would ensure that all female associations in Nigeria that are focused on Business and professional leadership will come under the coalition.
This she said is enable them become a formidable voice as well as being able to participate more in democracy in terms of what affects women and advocate for things that affect us as women.

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IGP launches Mobile App for NPF Microfinance Bank

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IGP launches Mobile App for NPF Microfinance Bank 

As part of efforts to improve welfare and make life comfortable for the officers and men of the Force, the inspector General of Police (IGP) Muhammed Adamu on Wednesday Launched the Mobile Banking Application for the NPF Microfinance Bank PLC.
While unveiling the platform at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters at Louis Edet House Adamu said the aim is to improve on services rendered to customers and realize ‘the vision for its establishment the Nigeria Police Force Microfinance Bank found it expedient to develop a “Mobile Banking Application, Agency Banking and the use of USSD” to meet customers’ needs. “This is a unique mobile Application created to provide financial services for both serving and retired Police Officers and the general public at large. “NPF Microfmance Bank Plc was set up to provide financial services such as retail banking, loans and advances, financial advisory and other allied services to hoth serving and retired officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force, its ancillary institutions, and the general banking public. According to him, the Bank Which commenced operations on 19th May, 1993 from a single branch, has since expanded network across thirty-flve (35) branches across Nigeria. “Over the years, the Bank has shown resilience which has reflected in its consistently positive performance as one of the leading Microfinance Banks in Nigeria. “The Board of Directors and Management through this digital banking platform have made a clear statement Which assures customers of utmost satisfaction and improvement in the business and general Operations of the Bank. “They have also effectively aligned the Operations of the bank to the rapidly advancing technological dynamics in the banking industry.”He said customers will now be able to perform key banking operations through the Mobile Banking A13plication being launched today from the comfort of theiB homes, digital devices, or through the bank’s accredited agents. “The main goal of this Mobile Banking Application is to reduce delay in transactions and improve Operational efficiencies. He said A Mobile Banking Application will no doubt improve interaction with Customers, deliver their needs speedily and also provide ways for making internal functions more efficient. Expaining further he said the deployment of the digital growth is a cultural shift from the traditional way of ‘conducting financial services required to meet discerning cuatomers. He gave the assurance that with the development, the bank will continue to aim for greater heights in order to meet the needs of customers, particularly, the personnel of Nigeria Police Force. 

He encouraged all the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force both serving and retired, and the general banking public to take advantage of this technolgical innovation by the Bank and enjoy limitless possibilities on the Mobile Banking Application and the Agency Banking Platform. He said it will improve interaction with Customers, deliver their needs speedily and also provide ways for making internal functions more efficient. The chairman of the bank Azubuko Joel Udah in his welcome address said the event marks a significant achievement for the Board and Management of our great Bank as they officially launch the Mobile Banking Application USSD and Agency Banking. “This achievement is coming at a time when customers arw demanding timeliness, flexibility and convenience In carrying out financial transactions. “The deployment of these E-Banklng Channels Is a milestone in our drive to leverage technology for providing our Banking Services In line with our three (3) years strategic plan and also improve our product and services to our customers who are majorly officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force and the public in general. “Innovations in technology has over time revolutionised the banking Sector and informed the Banks desire to include deployment of a Mobile Banking Application as a key aspect of the Banks digital strategy. “In addition, the Application was created out of the need to delight our customers by taking the Bank financial services closer to them regardless of the time of the day or their location.

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