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Climate Change and Gas Flaring Threaten Livelihoods of Akwa Fishermen

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Etim Effiong, a seasoned fisherman with over two decades of experience, recently returned home from a day at sea, his nets yielding disappointingly meager catches.

His story mirrors that of many others – individuals who have fallen victim to the far-reaching impacts of climate change.

Operating from the Museum Fishing Port situated behind the dilapidated National Museum in Oron, Oron Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Effiong recounted his recent ordeal as the most challenging in his long fishing career.

His account is just one among the numerous narratives of artisanal fishermen in the coastal communities of Akwa Ibom. These communities, heavily dependent on traditional fishing practices for their livelihood, are grappling with dwindling productivity during fishing expeditions. The situation has taken a turn for the worse due to noticeable temperature shifts, aggravating the challenges.

Ibeno and Eastern Obolo local government areas of the state, which host these fishing communities, have witnessed a stark decline in fish populations. The residents attribute this crisis to the adverse effects of climate change and the relentless gas flaring activities by international oil companies (IOCs).

Artisanal fishing, rooted in the use of traditional methods and modest fishing equipment, serves as the primary source of income for households within these communities. Regrettably, fish catches have plummeted in recent years as the complex interplay of temperature fluctuations and global warming disrupts the delicate balance of fish populations.

In mid-July, a visit by PREMIUM TIMES to the Museum Fishing Port in Esuk Abanda, the largest fishing port in the area, revealed a scene of anticipation. Scores of buyers, predominantly women, gathered, eagerly awaiting the return of the fishermen from their ocean pursuits. However, anticipation gave way to frustration as the fishing boats returned with disappointingly meager hauls.

The dwindling catches have had a direct impact on the economics of the region, leading to a substantial increase in fish prices. On that particular day, the cost of a fish size that typically sold for N1,000 surged to an unprecedented N3,500 in the market. This marked shift underscores the pressing need for urgent and sustainable solutions to address the intricate interplay between climate change, livelihoods, and the environment.

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Economy

Akwa Ibom Governor Takes Bold Step to Combat Hyper-Inflation in Markets

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Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State has taken decisive action to address the soaring food prices that have been causing distress among residents.

Through an executive order, Governor Eno has banned all market cartels, unions, and cabals, which have been identified as the primary drivers of hyper-inflation in major markets such as Akpan-Andem and Etuk Street Market in Uyo, as well as Itam International Market in Itu Local Government Area and other markets in Ikot Ekpene LGA.

The governor’s executive order is a response to the grievances of local traders and residents who have long suffered under the oppressive control of these market groups. Mrs. Mayen Etuk, a trader dealing in crayfish, fish, and other sea edibles, shared her frustration with the market unions.

According to Etuk, these unions have the power to dictate selling days and set prices for commodities, leaving traders with little control over their own goods. This lack of autonomy has led to significant financial losses, especially for those dealing in perishable items.

“Sometimes my goods will perish because there is no standby electricity to store them till the next market day that I would have my turn,” she lamented.

The fixed high prices imposed by the unions have also scared away customers, forcing traders to either take unsold goods back home or sell them at reduced prices in local markets, often at a loss.

This situation has exacerbated the financial strain on traders and contributed to the overall inflation in the region.

The unchecked activities of these market groups have led to significant price hikes across various staple foods. For instance, garri, a common staple food, now sells for N200 per cup, beans for N500 per cup, and rice for N400 per cup. Other food items, including pepper, periwinkle, vegetables, and condiments, have seen price increases averaging over 200%.

Governor Eno’s executive order aims to dismantle these exploitative market unions and restore fairness in the marketplace.

To ensure the directive is implemented effectively, the governor has tasked the state traders’ association, led by Senior Special Assistant on Market Matters, Akparawa Idorenyin Raphael, with ending the unions’ practices.

To reinforce this mandate, the state market monitoring team has undertaken an assessment tour of several markets, including Urua Akpan Andem and Urua Mbakara in Uyo, and other markets in Ikot Ekpene.

This proactive approach is designed to enforce the executive order and prevent the unions from continuing their harmful activities.

Residents like Mrs. Etuk have welcomed the governor’s intervention but have called for the establishment of a task force to ensure the directive is enforced effectively.

They fear that without stringent enforcement, the unions and profiteers will continue their exploitative practices.

Governor Eno’s executive order represents a critical step towards restoring fair market practices in Akwa Ibom State. By dismantling the market unions and ensuring compliance through regular monitoring, the government aims to reduce food prices and alleviate the financial burden on its residents.

This move is expected to bring much-needed relief to the people of Akwa Ibom, fostering a more equitable and prosperous market environment.

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Economy

UBA Records Impressive 110% Surge in Gross Earnings

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Solid Start to 2024, UBA Consolidates Gains as Gross Earnings Rise by 110%, Profit for [Quarter] Hits N156bn – delivering a YoY growth of 165%

United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Africa’s Global Bank, released its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31st, 2024, showing very strong growth across key performance measures.

The Group’s results, which were released to the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) on Friday May 3rd, 2024, saw outstanding year-on-year increases: Gross Earnings rose by 110%, from N271.1billion to N570.2 billion; Interest Income grew by 130%, to N440.7 billion.  Operating Income increased by 115%, from N175.7 billion in 2023, to N378.59 billion.

Further consolidating the record performance delivered in the Group’s 2023 Full Year Audited Financials, UBA again saw Profit Before Tax rising significantly by 155% from N61.7 billion in Q1 2023, to N156.34 billion in Q1 2024; while Profit After Tax jumped from N53.5 billion to N142.5 billion, representing an impressive rise of 165% year-on-year.

Commenting on the results, UBA’s Group Managing Director, Oliver Alawuba, said the Group delivered strong first quarter performance, building on the solid momentum of 2023, as well as the ongoing execution of its long-held strategy of customer focus, geographic diversification and effective risk management and governance.

He said, “Our record Q1 profit before tax was delivered with triple digit gross earnings growth, supported by very strong interest and non-interest income. Fees and Commissions rose by 118% year-on-year on the back of improved efficiencies and continued digital adoption.  This has helped drive improvement in efficiency and customer satisfaction, with the Group’s cost-to-income ratio held at 57.8%.”

“The Group’s balance sheet grew steadily with Total Assets increasing by 23% to N25.4 trillion. Customer deposits closed at N18.4 trillion, recording a 23% increase year-on-year, largely attributed to growth in current accounts and savings accounts.”

“Our unwavering commitment to sound governance, robust risk management, and financial strength positions us for continued growth, while we contribute meaningfully to inclusive economic development across our network.”

Also speaking on the performance, UBA’s Executive Director, Finance and Risk, Ugo Nwaghodoh, said the Group’s operating results for the quarter showed the actions taken to enhance the Group’s performance continued to deliver.

He said, “Our first quarter results highlight our relentless customer focus and the strength of UBA’s geographic and product diversification, with good performance across all our regions.  We continue to differentiate ourselves across all key financial metrics, with a keen focus on high-quality risk adjusted revenues and cost discipline, while maintaining very sound asset quality.“

“We remain committed to reducing both interest expense and operating expenses and expect to make steady progress as we move through the year toward our stated profitability targets,” Nwaghodoh stated.

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-five million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touch points, in 20 African countries and across 4 continents.

With presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA connects people and businesses across Africa through retail; commercial and corporate banking; innovative cross-border payments and remittances; trade finance and ancillary banking services.

 

 

 

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Economy

Akwa Ibom State Partners with Bertola Machine Tools Limited to Boost Food Production

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Akwa Ibom State has announced plans to collaborate with Bertola Machine Tools Limited to enhance food production in the state through mechanized farming, aligning with the agricultural revolution goals of the state government’s ARISE Agenda.

Governor Umo Eno revealed this during a visit to the premises of Bertola Machine Tools Limited located at Ifa Atai, Airport Road, Uyo, where he conducted a facility tour and inspected purpose-built machines and tools for agricultural activities over the weekend.

Governor Eno emphasized the significance of the partnership, stating that as part of the state government’s efforts to achieve food sufficiency, plans were underway to establish equipment leasing services to make essential machines available and accessible to farmers. He praised Bertola as a reliable partner in this endeavor.

Acknowledging Bertola’s longstanding reputation for integrity and consistency in the equipment and machinery industry across the nation, Governor Eno commended the company’s commitment to excellence over the years.

The governor directed the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Offiong Offor, and her counterparts in Works and Fire Service, Professor Eno Ibanga, to collaborate on developing modalities for the government’s partnership with Bertola Machine Tools Limited, ensuring that farmers in the state have access to machines for basic farm operations.

In his remarks, Albert Inyang, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Bertola Machine Tools Limited, commended Governor Eno for his genuine commitment to improving the lives of the people of Akwa Ibom State through impactful projects and programs.

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