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SLOW COMPLIANCE DESPITE CBN ORDER, BANKS RATION OLD NOTES

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Crowd yet to thin at a bank’s ATM gallery after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) declared old naira notes legal tender …. yesterday. PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

• Business owners, traders defy CBN, reject old N500, N1,000

• CBN silent on returned banknotes, warehoused cash

• Residual notes amount to drop in ocean, analysts insist

• NIBSS: ePayment recorded series of failed transactions in February

• HURIWA charges CBN to disburse old, new notes to banks

The silence of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the trillions of naira it mopped from the financial system continues to cast doubt on the possibility of achieving sufficient naira circulation in the near term, after Monday night’s directive urging banks to comply with the Supreme Court ruling extending the validity of the old banknotes to December 31, 2023.

The statement came days after some banks had started issuing the old notes in their vaults. Some of the banks, The Guardian learnt had exhausted the residual notes in their possession before the CBN directive – a reason majority have none to give as at yesterday when the regulatory directive took effect.

Insider sources disclosed that some bank chiefs used the Supreme Court ruling to release the ‘stranded’ cash in their possession, while they rejected deposits of same old notes.

The Guardian was informed that bank chiefs were already worried about what to do with the notes they collected at the height of the crisis without a clear directive from the regulator.

“The issue was that some banks collected some deposits in old notes at the time CBN was not forthcoming with clear instructions on the proceeds. The court ruling provided an opportunity to dispose of the cash,” the source said.

The Guardian had, after the Supreme Court judgment, reported that CBN was still in possession of a reasonable volume of the old notes but would require sufficient time to sort it for distribution for onward re-issuance.

Apart from a viral and uncomfirmed YouTube video of supposed shred bags of naira, there is no official validation that a part or the entire volume sucked from the system had been destroyed.

The latest official statement of the apex bank on the issue vaguely said the old notes remained legal tenders alongside the new series. There was nothing in the statement that indicated how the bank intends to plug the hole to bring the situation to normalcy.

The CBN spokesperson, Dr. Isa Abdulmumin, was not forthcoming on the returned old notes and whether they would be re-issued in the meantime, as calls and messages were not attended to at press time.

Commercial banks, who have also been jolted by the recent bank failure in the United States, are mindful of a possible run on the banks as soon as substantial cash flows into the system. The lenders, it was learnt, are simulating different levels of scenarios of cash calls and strategising on how they could be prevented.

David Adonri, an economist and stockbroker, said the fear of bank run is real and that the only way it could be prevented is by issuing cash in excess of N3.2 trillion, the volume of currency in circulation before the naira redesign programme commenced.

“The way it is, whatever CBN issues going forward would amount to pouring water into a basket. People have suffered much, and they would go on a withdrawing spree, not to spend but to store in their houses. That would further hurt the circulation of whatever amount the banks give out,” Adonri noted.

A financial inclusion/wealth management expert, CEO of SD&D Capital Management Limited, Idakolo Gabriel Gbolade, said the naira crisis should not have reached an unbearable height before government’s intervention, adding that it is unthinkable for a democratically-elected government to watch its citizens suffer for months.

He explained that the scar of the crisis would be felt in the economy for a long time. “The state of the economy is worsening and is compounded by the delayed intervention towards implementing the Supreme Court’s ruling. The scarcity of new notes shouldn’t have reached an unbearable height before President Buhari and CBN’s response,” he stated.

DATA obtained from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) indicates that the usage of e-payment gateways recorded a 41.29 per cent month-on-month increase. Cashless payment gateways were used 901.46 million times in February, up from 638 million in January.

Despite an increase in usage, the total value of cashless transactions fell in February, indicating that the number of failed transactions increased due to poor network infrastructure.

This is contrary to the expectation that the naira redesign policy will increase electronic transactions in the country.

Since 2020, NIBSS has not updated its efficiency platform portal, which displays the number of failed transitions and other data, making it difficult to report the number of failed transactions. As the major payment switch in the country, NIBSS records cashless transactions from the Nigeria Instant Payment System and Point of Sales terminals. In February, the total NIP (instant payments) fell to N36.79 trillion from N38.772 trillion in January.

Despite the scarcity of naira witnessed in February, data from NIBSS revealed that the value of PoS transactions grew from N807.16 billion in January to N883.45 billion in February.

Usage of mobile transfers, which serve as the primary payment gateway for many Nigerians, soared by 69.87 per cent from 108.14 million times in January to 183.69 million times in February.

While usage grew drastically, transaction value only grew marginally by 7.88 per cent from N2.37 trillion in January to N2.56 trillion in February. This mirrored the experience of many Nigerians in the month, who had to grapple with multiple failed mobile transactions.

MEANWHILE, it’s a slow compliance on the streets as business owners, traders and transporters in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), yesterday, defied CBN’s directive hours after the apex bank’s announcement.

It was gathered that residents of Abuja were still rejecting the old notes. Salisu Mohammed, a trader in the UTC Area market, confirmed that he rejected the old notes.

“No one is collecting the old N500 and N1,000 notes as I speak to you. If other traders do not collect the money, do you expect me to do so? I have rejected some customers today who came buying with old currencies,” he said.

Okechukwu Okereke, a taxi driver, said he is yet to come to terms with CBN’s announcement on acceptance of the old notes.

“As for me, I am not receiving the money. I heard depositing it at the bank is difficult, so what is the need? Only customers who have the new notes will board my vehicle,” he said.

Commercial banks in Utako, Jabi, Wuse and Abuja city centres were crowded with customers, as has been the case since the beginning of the naira crisis two months ago.

Prof Godwin Oyedokun, a lecturer of Accounting and Management at Leads University Ibadan, said Nigerians’ compliance with CBN’s decision might take some time, while Dr Muda Yusuf, Director, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), urged the apex bank to embark on massive awareness campaign on its latest directive.

RESIDENTS of Ilorin, Kwara State capital, reacted variously to Monday’s directive of the CBN. While majority described the directive as a good development, others said it will only impact positively if vigorous sensitisation and public enlightenment campaigns are carried out by CBN to restore confidence of the people who have been traumatised by the naira crisis.

Musa Ayinla, a lawyer, said the situation will improve if banks dispense enough old notes to cushion the effects of the hardship Nigerians have gone through over the naira scarcity. He further complained that Point of Sale (PoS) operators are not helping the situation with exorbitant charges they impose on cash withdrawals.

A retired civil servant, Shola Adeshina, who also described the announcement as a positive development, urged banks to make the old notes available if there are not enough new notes for circulation. He particularly sympathised with people in rural areas where there are no banking services, wondering about the negative effect of the crisis on rural economy.

In Ebonyi State, despite CBN’s directive, residents and business operators have refused to collect the old notes.

Check by The Guardian showed that apart from the difficulties in accessing both new and old notes, PoS agents were exchanging N1000 for either N1400 or N1500.

Traders in Makurdi and other parts of Benue State were still wary of accepting the old notes yesterday. At the Gboko rice mill, traders avoided the old notes like a pariah.

When The Guardian went round banks in Makurdi, crowd of desperate people laid siege to the gates of the banks.

THERE was relief in Rivers State as banks commenced across the counter payment of old notes to customers. Different branches of various banks were seen paying old notes to customers willing to accept them.

However, disbursement was still being rationed according to the discretion of officials of the various banks. None of the banks was paying the new notes along with the old.

At the Mile 1, Diobu, Port Harcourt area, a first generation bank was paying a maximum of N20,000 to each customer, while another bank paid maximum of N5,000. Others refused to disclose their limits, only offering to say that they were paying the old notes.

It was discovered that no Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) of any of the banks was dispensing cash. This now diverted the crowd that usually gather at the ATM points into the banking halls.

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has slammed CBN over its tardiness and insensitivity to the plight of millions of Nigerians, whose lives have been strangulated economically in the last three months due to the naira redesign policy.

HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said beyond CBN’s reluctant compliance notice with the Supreme Court order of March 3, Emefiele should immediately release old and new naira notes into circulation to ease the suffering of ordinary Nigerians, especially those in the informal sector and in rural areas, who have no idea of digital banking.

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THE IGBO CULTURE OF I KPÓPÙ (TAKING SOMEONE OUT)

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The Igbo culture of I kpópù is one such lingo in the Igbo language that cannot be given an easy, direct translation, just as it is somehow complex in its simplicity, for the non-Igbo to understand, replicate, or practice.

One can only contextually approximate an interpretation, like to say it is about ‘taking someone out’, which as a normal English language expression could mean to kill someone. But here, it is directly opposite to the above, to mean or at least suggest, to take someone to another clime, to teach or help him secure a means of livelihood, for a better future.

The Igbo culture of I kpópù is very well different from I gba boyi, which is the popular system where a lad is taken into apprenticeship in a business by an established person he serves for some time, usually going into years, and is thereafter settled with a start-up at the end of the term of his learning. There are usually agreements that are followed, even when nothing is cast in stone.

In I Kpópù, a person, younger or older, simply follows someone, a relative, friend, or just somebody persuaded to assist, to his base, within the country or abroad, to help him ‘find his feet.’ He could take him into his business or give him out to someone else who does the kind of business the young man is interested in. Whatever, he serves as his guardian and mentor hence he oversees everything he does, to ensure he is well and achieves his aspirations.

Most times when people are taken out, it is an epic, destiny-shaping journey. While the benefactor makes everything available within his powers, to make the beneficiary succeed, it is expected of the latter to apply himself fully and with diligence to his hustling. Most times, they are taught trades or skills, or even become boyi (apprentice), depending on many factors, ranging from personal preferences to available opportunities. Of course, the conditions are usually not a bed of roses, of which the indomitable Igbo spirit of can-do, overcomes.

In most cases, whoever is taken out is not expected to pay back as it is usually help just offered to a kinsman, friend, or even a recommended stranger, keen to succeed in life. However, appreciation is usually shown in many ways, like acknowledging the benefactor’s intervention through verbal testimonies, presentation of gifts as well as hosting of such individuals and friends, among others, while also making oneself available as an instrument of help to others. That is why for everyone who takes out someone, someone else had possibly taken him out, just as the last in the chain is expected to take someone out too in the future.

Igbo people, especially the youths, value this Igbo culture of I kpópù a lot. Many lives have been changed through this practice. Today in Igbo land, it is therefore common to rate people, not necessarily by what they have for themselves, but by the number of those they have helped to also become successful. And this is one of the means. So, now the seasons and celebrations are over and people are returning to their bases, many have in tow youngsters who are going to pursue their dreams and destinies across the world. And rest assured by this time next year, many of them would come back successful.

And they would be very much ready to take yet other scores of young men with them, to take their shots at life. This is one of the ways the South East of Nigeria has continued to have the highest per capita income in the country. As such, while it is everyone’s right to hustle, it is expected of every brother to extend that privilege of assistance to a brother, to make his dreams come true.

Written by Wordshot Amaechi Ugwele

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EEDC NOTIFIES CUSTOMERS OF PLANNED PREPAID METER UPGRADE

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Below is an official statement to that effect:

The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC (EEDC) has notified its customers that by 24th November 2024, all prepaid meters in its network will cease to accept credit tokens, unless they are upgraded.

This is as a result of a software upgrade which will be affecting all Standard Transfer Specification (STS) compliant prepaid meters across the globe.

The upgrade will be implemented through a special ‘reset token’ known as “Key Change Token” (KCT), which will be loaded on their meters, to have them upgraded.

Customers of EEDC that are using prepaid meters are therefore advised to ensure that their meters are upgraded before the set date of 24th November 2024, to avoid losing them.

The management of EEDC appeals to its customers to remain calm and not panic, as they will be notified of the process and modalities for the upgrade.

For enquiries and further clarification, customers are to call: 084 700 100, SMS/Whatsapp: 0815 082 6060 or 0815 082 6061, or send email to: customerservice@enugudisco.com

EMEKA EZEH
HEAD, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, EEDC
24/07/2023

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[TACKLING HARD TIMES] HERE ARE VEGETABLES YOU CAN GROW IN POTS ON YOUR BALCONY

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Today, many Nigerians are particularly challenged as to how to make ends meet. It is therefore important to think of simple and creative ways to boost your standard of living without spending more. As vegetables are what we need all the time, sourcing them can be quite expensive and time-consuming too.

But you can create your own little garden within the building and have fun too in having handy those fresh veggies you desire. This is all too easy if you have water as we already have enough sunlight here to provide the ideal weather needed for the plants to grow and do well.

hot peppers growing in a container

Indeed, there are many people that would love to start a vegetable garden but simply don’t have the outdoor space to do it. These days, many people live in apartments and high rises and simply don’t have any outdoor space to work with for gardening. Luckily, gardeners are no longer relegated to building raised beds or starting in-ground gardens, and there are a wide variety of vegetables that are well-suited to container gardening. 

Growing vegetables in containers gives you the option of creating a vegetable garden on your balcony or patio, or even indoors near a sunny window.

Just about every vegetable that you could ever want to grow outdoors in a garden can also be grown in a container garden on your balcony, and your vegetables will thrive in containers as well, as long as you provide the proper growing conditions and care, and select a container that is large enough to house the plant comfortably, and allows plenty of space for its roots to expand as it matures. 

In this article, we’ll tell you which vegetables are great for growing in pots in a balcony or patio garden setup, go over each vegetables basic growing preferences, highlight the best varieties of each vegetable for container gardening, and finally, we’ll give a few tips and pointers about starting your own balcony vegetable garden.

red tomatoes

TOMATOES

Tomatoes are some of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers. As long as you have a location that receives at least five to six hours of sunlight per day, you can grow tomatoes in your balcony container garden with ease. If you have limited space, try growing a dwarf variety, or cherry tomatoes instead of one of the larger tomato varieties. Tomato varieties that are well suited to container gardening include Patio Princess, BushSteak, Sweetheart of the Patio, Tumbler, and Glacier. 

For more on how to grow tomatoes in containers, click here.


BEANS

Pole beans and bush beans are both well-suited to container gardens. All you need is a spot that gets lots of sunlight, a pot that is at least one foot deep, and a trellis-like structure for the vines to grow on (for climbing varieties), and you can expect to see a good crop of beans that are ready to harvest within just a few short weeks. Good bush bean varieties to grow in containers include Bush Blue Lake, or Contender. For pole beans that are well-suited to containers, try Cherokee Trail of Tears. For green bean varieties that grow well in pots, try out Mascotte Green Beans.  

For more information on how to grow green beans in containers, click here. For more on how to grow other types of beans, click here.


PEPPERS

Aside from tomatoes and radishes, peppers are the easiest vegetable to grow in containers, and they are voracious producers as well. You will need to provide a large, deep pot, preferably at least one foot deep for ideal growth. Keep your peppers in full sun and start providing fertilizer when the plant flowers until it is done producing fruit. The best pepper plants for containers are Jalapeno, Yellow Spice Jalapeno, Early Jalapeno, Shishito, Poblano, Bolivian Rainbow, Numex Twilight, Fushimi, and Devil’s Tongue peppers

To learn more about growing hot or sweet pepper plants in containers, click here.

CARROTS

Carrots are easy to grow in containers as long as you select the right varieties. You want to pick carrots that are short instead of the standard carrot types, as the standard carrot varieties need more room for their roots to grow. Also, make sure to select a container that is deep enough to support their long taproots. Avoid overwatering and keep foliage dry to avoid issues with mildew. The best carrot varieties for pots are Romeo, Tonda di Parigi, and Little Finger. 

For more on how to grow carrots in containers, click here


PEAS

Pretty much all varieties of peas are good for container gardening, but dwarf varieties and bush varieties are preferred, especially if you are limited on space for your vegetable garden. Peas enjoy moist soil and cool weather and containers that are six to 12 inches deep depending on the cultivar. If your container is at least one foot in diameter, you can fit four to six pea plants in it comfortably. The best peas for container gardening are Peas-in-a-Pot, Tom Thumb, Snowbird, and Little SnapPea Crunch

To learn more about growing peas, click here


EGGPLANT/GARDEN EGG

Eggplants are fairly large vegetables, but as long as you provide at least a five-gallon pot that is wide enough to provide plenty of room for each eggplant you grow, they will perform very well in pots on your balcony. Eggplants require six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day and regular fertilization. Eggplant plants require support when they start producing fruit, so make sure to remember to provide stakes or cages to help support the weight of the heavy eggplant fruits. The best varieties of eggplant for container gardening are Fairy Tale, Bambino, Crescent Moon, Hansel, and Gretel. 

To learn more about growing eggplants, click here.


TIPS FOR GROWING VEGETABLES IN POTS ON YOUR BALCONY


  • Do not use soil from the ground when growing in containers, as it is typically heavy and may cause drainage issues, and it may contain pests or soil-borne diseases that could hurt your crops. Instead, use potting soil, preferably potting soil that is specifically formulated for vegetables. A top of the line, organic potting soil is ideal, and feel free to mix in some well-rotted compost, or worm castings to increase the organic matter and improve water retention and drainage. 
  • Make sure that your balcony gets plenty of sunlight, as the majority of vegetables and herbs enjoy at least eight hours of sunlight per day. If your balcony or patio area doesn’t get that much sun, you will need to adjust what you are growing in that area. A handful of root vegetables, like carrots and radishes, as well as leafy greens like lettuce, chard, and kale, only need four to six hours of sunlight to thrive. Look for a spot on the porch, deck, or driveway area that does get eight hours of sun for your other vegetables and herbs that thrive in full sun conditions. 
  • Make sure that you have a water source nearby, as vegetables are very thirsty plants and they will need a lot of water during the growing season to develop plenty of fruit for harvests. Having a water source nearby will keep you from having to lug watering cans full of water for long distances to keep your plants hydrated. 
  • Take a look above the location where you are planning on keeping your containers for your vegetable garden and try to avoid placing them under the awning of your balcony or right up against the house. Making sure your plants have access to rainfall can cut a lot of work out of caring for your plants, as you won’t need to manually water them after a heavy rain, as long as they are in a position where they are receiving that rainfall whenever it comes along. 
  • Pick containers that are large enough to support the root systems of the plants that you are wanting to grow and large enough so that the plants have plenty of room to grow to full size without needing to be repotted. Make sure that the containers that you choose have ample drainage. Here is a quick guide to selecting the right size pots for the vegetables and herbs that you want to grow:

One to two gallon containers (for small plants) – Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, chard, collards, and spinach. Other plants that work for one to two gallon containers include grape and cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi, and individual herb plants.

Five to eight gallon containers (for medium plants) – Most brassicas fit into this size container, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, as well as medium-sized tomato plants, okra, and bush-style cucumber plants. 

Eight to ten gallon containers (for large plants) – Most large vegetables will fit into these size containers, including peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, tomatillos, large tomatoes, and bush type winter squash varieties. 

Ten to fifteen gallon containers (for extra large plants) – These extra large containers will suffice for individual plants of extra large tomatoes, winter squash, pumpkins, and artichokes. 

  • Good companion plants for pairing up veggies in extra large containers or for growing near to each other in separate containers:
    • Plant beans with carrots and squash, or pair beans with eggplants. 
    • Plant tomatoes with basil, garlic, and onions. 
    • Pair lettuce with herb plants like basil, rosemary, and thyme. 
    • Plant spinach with chard and onions.
  • Avoid planting these plants near one another, even in separate containers:
    • Keep bean plants away from onion and garlic.
    • Keep carrots away from dill or fennel.
    • Don’t plant tomatoes near squash or potatoes.
    • Don’t plant onions near beans or peas.

Starting your own vegetable garden on your balcony or patio space is fun and easy. Growing vegetables in containers can be nearly as prolific as growing them directly in the ground, and container gardening can drastically reduce issues with pests and soil-borne diseases. If you have a balcony or patio with ample space and plenty of sunlight, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start your own container garden today. 

Source: Gardening Channel

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