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Fed Govt, investors draw down N850b unclaimed dividends fund

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Fed Govt, investors draw down N850b unclaimed dividends fund.

The Federal Government has started using funds in the Unclaimed Dividends Trust Fund to finance its budget deficit.

The initial estimate placed the size of the Fund at N850 billion, but the size varies according to new deposits and withdrawals.

A source at the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning told The Nation yesterday that contrary to certain official posturing, the Federal Government had started drawing from the unclaimed dividends to fund the budget deficit.

The source said the government had withdrawn from the trust fund in 2021 to finance the year’s budget deficit.

The is being managed by the Debt Management Office (DMO) and the Accountant-General of the Federation.

The trust fund contains a backlog of unclaimed dividends and monies from dormant accounts.

Director General, DMO, Ms. Patience Oniha, said the trust fund is “still work in progress”.

Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mallam Lamido Yuguda, said “there is an Unclaimed Dividends Trust Fund at the moment and it has a framework whereby dividends that have not been claimed over a certain period are transferred to this Fund”.

“It will be utilised in line with the investment objectives of that Trust Fund.

“However, if anybody comes forward at any given time to claim their unclaimed dividends, this Fund will be able to repay these dividends without any problems,” Yuguda said.

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He confirmed that there were a lot of developments around the trust fund being managed by DMO.

He said people have also been drawing their claims from the trust fund.

“There are a lot of people who are getting their unclaimed dividends paid to them from the Trust Fund and we will not immediately have the information,” Yuguda said.

He noted that with the introduction of the electronic dividend system, “a lot of people have been able to get back their dividends”.

“You know the Nigerian capital market is a very big market and every year companies declare dividends and Nigerian investors benefit from it.

“Some people are not coming forward to get their dividends because they have not mandated their accounts.

“We have cases of multiple subscriptions which the Commission has made a lot of efforts to resolve,” Yuguda said.

The attempts by shareholders to access their funds from the Unclaimed Dividends Trust Fund notwithstanding, Yuguda said there is a large pool of money in the Fund because many shareholders are yet to “mandate their accounts”.

“The reason the number may be going higher is because a lot of investors have not mandated their accounts.

“Dividends are now distributed electronically, so dividends go directly into the investor’s account and if everybody mandates their accounts there would be little unclaimed dividends in the system,” he said.

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Yuguda said SEC “has invested a lot of resources, embarked on several programmes on investor education to ensure that people mandate their accounts”.

To the investors whose dividends are stuck in moribund or active public limited liability company quoted on the Nigerian Exchange, Yuguda said: “The process is still open and can be done with the registrars.

“Forms can be obtained from the banks too and it’s a very simple process. We also have on our website a tool that assists the investors to determine any unclaimed dividends that they have.”

Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed when introducing the Unclaimed Dividends Trust Fund had said “there would be as much as N850 billion” although there have to be exact reports from the CBN and then registrars to ascertain the actual size.

“This is a special trust fund. It means the government is keeping the money in trust for the beneficiaries.

“At any time a registrar or a bank confirms that there is a true and bonafide beneficiary of this fund, then the government will release from that trust fund to the investors,” Ahmed said.

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Reign and Rema poses with their favorite friends – Aneke twins

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The adorable twins Reign and Adaeze and Adanne Ododoezechi strikes a pose with their favourite aunties the Nollywood divas Chidnma and chidiebere Aneke.

Instagram – @Reign_rema_official

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Dangote Refinery to produce Euro 5 petrol standard

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Dangote Refinery to produce Euro 5 petrol standard.

The Dangote Petroleum Refinery is built to meet the new Euro-5 Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) petrol standard, The Nation learnt yesterday.

This is contained in the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) obtained by our correspondent yesterday.

The Euro-5 standard is meant to reduce carbon emissions. The new Euro-5 limits reduce pollution from the exhaust and are remarkably similar to Euro-6 limits for cars.

Euro-5 is mandatory for all new type-approved motorcycles, including mopeds, with exceptions for some small market categories such as trial bikes.

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The NMDPRA document, which came in a question and answer format, raised the question of “What is the specification for PMS in Nigeria?”

Responding, the authority noted that “We currently utilise SON 2017 specifications for Gasoline/PMS in Nigeria.”

On whether any government plans to move to a higher standard of PMS (Euro 4 or higher?), the NMDPRA said: “The current SON 2017 specifications are akin to Euro 4 specifications. It should also be noted that the Dangote Refinery is designed and built to meet Euro 5 classification standards which will meet local, regional and international standards

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“Also, the output of other modular refineries are expected to meet Euro 4 specifications at a minimum.”

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Aviation workers begin warning strike as Airlines shelve flights halt

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Aviation workers begin warning strike as Airlines shelve flights halt.

Air travellers can now heave a sigh of relief as Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) late yesterday resolved to suspend its threat to halt flights from today in their interest and national economy.

But their flights might experience some hitches as aviation workers nationwide will today begin a two-day warning strike to protest the Federal Government’s alleged failure to implement their negotiated conditions of service.

In a statement yesterday, AON explained that it decided to suspend the ‘no flights’ threat following numerous calls from the highest echelons in government that promised to urgently intervene in the crises faced by its members.

One of the challenges that informed the threat is the rising cost of JetA1 otherwise known as aviation fuel. A litre of JetA1 currently sells at N700..

The AON statement was signed by its President, Dr Abdulmunaf Yunusa – Sarina; Executive Director, Max Air, Alhaji Shehu Wada; Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, Dr Obiora Okonkwo Chief Executive Officer, Arik Air; Capt. Roy Ilegbodu; Chief Executive Officer, Aero Contractors, Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood; Managing Director, Azman Air, Alhaji Faisal Abdulmunaf and Chairman, Air Peace, Chief. Allen Onyema.

The statement reads: ‘ “We have also reached this decision with the highest consideration for our esteemed customers who have been faced with uncertainty over the last few days and to enable them to have access to travel to their various destinations for the time being during the period of discussions with relevant authorities.

“In view of the above and in the interest of national economy and security considerations, AON hereby wishes to notify the general public that the earlier announced shutdown of operations on May 9, 2022, is hereby suspended in good faith pending the outcome of hopefully fruitful engagement with government.”

Earlier, there was a crack among the operators as seven of them —DANA Air, Arik Air, Green Africa Airways, Overland Airways, Aero Contractors, Arik Air and Ibom Air—said they would not suspend flights.

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The decision of the seven carriers was part of the harvest of engagements between their managers and officials of the Ministry of Aviation and other interests in the industry.

Besides, the carriers argued that they had obligations to their passengers who had booked and paid for flights.

Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika, who debunked claims that the now-suspended threat by the airlines was directed at the Federal Government., said a bail-out of N4 billion was given to them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Affairs, James Odaudu, that the fund was given to the airlines despite their indebtedness to aviation agencies.

The statement reads in part: “ “The minister at various times personally took members of the Association to engage with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sort out issues of access to Foreign Exchange (FOREX) for their operations, and also the NNPC Limited to explore ways of ensuring the availability of Aviation fuel (JET A1) through importation or from the major marketers at affordable prices.

“It should also be recalled that members of the Association were also considered for, and given Bail-out funds to the tune of N4 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that they remained afloat.

“This was without prejudice to the fact that most of them were heavily indebted to Aviation agencies (as they still are).

We believe that members of the Association are patriots who have continued to bear the brunt of unfavourable global oil market dynamics for which we salute their doggedness.

“As a government, we reiterate our commitment to the continued growth of the aviation industry where airlines and other service providers operate in a conducive, supportive and profitable business environment.”

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Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation Smart Adeyemi has however reiterated his call on the Federal Government to financially assist airlines in the country.

Adeyemi said his call became necessary in view of the socio-economic importance of the aviation sector to the country.

”A few months ago, I called for financial support from the Federal Government in view of the socio-economic importance of the aviation sector due to the high cost of aviation fuel and the poor exchange rate of our currency.

“Secondly, the challenges in the aviation industry are huge and about 95 per cent of aviation needs are imported with hard currency.

“They must not be allowed to be tempted to cut corners or risk low fuel level.”

Meanwhile, workers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and others have been directed by their unions to stay away from work today and tomorrow.

The National Union of Air Transport Employees ( NUATE), Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals as well as the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees had at the weekend issued a special bulletin to workers of aviation agencies to inform them of the warning strike.

The bulletin reads: “Our Unions have no alternative than to embark on an industrial action to press home our demand for justice and equity, especially considering the long-suffering, patience and forbearance on the part of our members which has now reached yield point.”

“Accordingly, all workers in NAMA, NCAA, NiMeT and NCAT are hereby directed to embark on a two-day warning strike on the 9th and 10th of May, 2022.

“Should the warning go unheeded, an indefinite strike shall be called soon after.”

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