A Week in Nigeria: 9 March
Highlights from Reuters coverage of Nigeria over the last seven days
In this week’s round-up: Central bank governor’s future is scrutinised, sex trafficking victims stranded in Russia and confusion after fire in oil pipeline area.
- It’s been relatively quiet after a hectic few weeks leading up to, and including, the presidential election. But the news never really stops. The future of the central bank governor came under scrutiny this week. We reported that Godwin Emefiele is likely to exit in June and would take leave from this month before stepping down at the end of his five-year term. No central bank governor has been given a second term, although it is still possible that Emefiele could buck that trend.
- In our story we reported that several candidates have been touted to replace the incumbent. Among them is the head of Nigeria’s “bad bank” AMCON, Ahmed Kuru, who led the sale of the country’s nationalised banks, sources say. Aishah Ahmad, deputy governor of the apex bank is also in the running. Emefiele has kept interest rates at the record high of 14 percent for over two years to tighten liquidity and support the naira after a crisis forced the central bank to devalue the currency. Central bank governors in Nigeria typically go on a 3-month leave before the end of their tenures. The central bank declined to comment. Sources later said the Reuters story prompted questions about the top job within the corridors Bloomberg followed up on the Reuters story a day later. The angry reaction on Twitter from a presidential aide in response to Bloomberg’s follow-up to our story, a day later, hinted at tensions over the issue.
- Nigeria’s Access Bank said it had received shareholders’ approval to take over rival Diamond Bank in a $235 million deal that would create Africa’s largest bank by customers. Access Bank said both banks would operate under the new Access Bank brand from April 1. In December, Access had agreed to buy mid-tier lender Diamond Bank with cash and shares, creating a bank with 29 million customers, which the two banks have said is more than any other bank in Africa. The takeover will reduce the number of players in banking in Nigeria, where the top five banks control more than 60 percent of assets.
- The Reuters bureau in Moscow reported the story of 19-year-old Blessing Obuson, from Nigeria’s southern state of Edo, who thought Russia’s hosting of the World Cup would be an opportunity to find a job. She flew into Moscow from Nigeria last June on a fan ID. Instead, she found herself forced to work as a prostitute. She said she was locked in a flat on the outskirts of Moscow and forced into sex work along with 11 other Nigerian women who were supervised by a madam, also from Nigeria. Many other Nigerians have found themselves in a similar situation in Russia after the World Cup.
- South Africa’s telecoms group MTN aims to list its Nigerian unit on the Nigerian Stock Exchange during the first half of 2019 without raising new money from investors immediately, MTN Nigeria said. The local unit of the telecoms giant said it would simplify its capital structure prior to the listing.
- A fire in the southern Nigerian area of Nembe did not involve the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) or other pipelines, operator Aiteo said. It made the statement following an Associated Press report that said that more than 50 people were missing following a fire late last week after an alleged leak on one of two main pipelines that carry. Bonny Light oil to an export terminal. Aiteo said that prior to the fire in the area, all facilities had been shut down since 28 of February 2019. The conflicting reports sparked confusion but both the operator and locals said nobody was hurt in the fire.